Belfast Telegraph


Number crunchers looking at the Foyle constituency will have already worked out that this could very well be the year that Sinn Fein take this seat from the SDLP who have held it since 1983.

Despite a reduction in the number of candidate vying for the unionist vote which will increase the DUP's Gary Middleton vote, this will still be a two-horse race between SDLP's Mark Durkan and Sinn Fein's candidate Elisha McCallion.

Mrs McCallion shook the foundations of the Foyle Arena count centre in March when she topped the poll with an impressive 9,205 first preference votes in the Assembly elections.

She was closely followed by her running mate Raymond McCartney with over 7,000 votes leaving the two SDLP candidates, Party Leader Colum Eastwood and Mark H Durkan in their wake.

If the party can garner their supporters to come out and vote for Mrs McCallion in the same volume then the SDLP's Mark Durkan will have a real fight on his hands.

On the face of it Mr Durkan enjoyed a handsome victory in 2015 with 17,725 votes which was over 6,000 more that Sinn Fein's Gearóid Ó hEára but the results of the Assembly elections prove that Foyle is no longer the SDLP safe seat it once was.

Even the absence of a Ulster Unionist candidate as well as UKIP and NI Conservatives will do nothing to improve the DUP's Gary Middleton's chances of being elected.

Unionist voters have long ago realised that the demographics of this constituency means no  unionist candidate will be elected and so many chose to use their vote tactically to keep Sinn Fein out.

The Alliance party is fielding John Doherty as its candidate but there is little appetite for the party in this constituency polling just 835 votes in 2015 but People Before Profit's Shaun Harkin is unlikely to fare any better.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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