Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Constituency profile: Mid-Ulster

Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is defending a very safe seat, and no one is expecting any surprises.



Mr McGuinness won Mid Ulster from the DUP's Rev William McCrea 13 years ago.

The vanquished DUP man later headed off to fight in South Antrim, but his MLA son Ian is now flying the flag for the party in the constituency

Stormont gives a good indication of party support in Mid Ulster these days.

Sinn Fein holds three out of the six Assembly seats, while the DUP, SDLP and UUP all have one MLA each.

Taking in Cookstown, Coalisland, Magherafelt and Maghera, Mid Ulster has traditionally had high voter turnouts.

That's probably related to the close DUP/Sinn Fein battles that were fought in the 1980s.

The fact that the result is viewed as a foregone conclusion might depress turnout this time.

And the other |nominations are?

TUV candidate Walter Millar will be hoping to take a chunk of support from the traditional DUP heartland.

Like the DUP, the Tory-Ulster Unionist camp is making politics a family affair.

Its candidate is Sandra Overend, daughter of Mid-Ulster UUP MLA Billy Armstrong, who contested the Westminster seat for the party five years ago.

She has also been part of her father’s MLA staff team for a number of years.

The SDLP candidate is Tony Quinn, chairman of Cookstown District Council and a self-employed credit controller.

His party will want to get out its vote and demonstrate that its hold on an Assembly seat in the constituency is firm.

Mr Quinn launched his online video campaign with a promise to donate one third of his MP’s salary to a local anti-poverty charity if he wins the seat.

The Alliance candidate is Ian Butler.

Who starts ahead?

Mr McGuinness has a more than healthy 10,976 majority to defend.

Not only is his party known for running slick election campaigns but as Deputy first Minister, he is undoubtedly the most high profile of all the runners.

In the last Westminster election, Ian McCrea was the Sinn Fein man's closest rival yet he received less than half the number of votes.

What are the issues?

Whoever is successful in their bid to win a seat at Westminster will have some difficult issues to address - not least crippling unemployment and the long-term provision of services at the Mid Ulster Hospital.

While the outcome of the election may be fairly easy to predict, the future of health and employment in the area may not be so easy to resolve.

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