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Constituency profile: Foyle

Foyle is a largely nationalist constituency, and in recent times, Sinn Fein and the SDLP have dominated the polls and the DUP has secured a seat with ease.

However, the dynamic has changed with the transition to five seats, and in the 2017 election, many of the candidates had become household names.

This time around, it is only Mark H Durkan who has previously been elected from the main nationalist parties and Gary Middleton on the unionist side.

In 2016, veteran socialist Eamonn McCann disrupted the status quo by claiming the sixth seat in Foyle.

But, when Martin McGuinness resigned and an election was held, Mr McCann narrowly missed out in the new five-seat constituency.

With 14 candidates this year, it is a packed field with diverse voices. Mr Middleton, who topped the poll in 2016, gained the fifth and final seat last time out.

The fifth seat in Foyle may be up for grabs this time due to a mixture of factors including untested candidates and a general disillusionment with politics among the Foyle electorate who feel Stormont has not delivered for them.

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The Ulster Unionist Party have a confident performer in Ryan McCready who is keen to transmit a positive brand of unionism. Mr McCready quit the DUP after former First Minister Arlene Foster was removed from the party. He said the DUP was no longer compatible with his beliefs.

As soon as he joined the UUP, Doug Beattie spoke glowingly about him, saying he could see him on the benches of Stormont.

TUV candidate Elizabeth Neely may take some of the more hardline unionist votes given her party’s rigid opposition to the NI Protocol.

The SDLP are also eyeing a third seat as the party tries to capitalise on its success in the Westminster election when Colum Eastwood romped home with a 17,170 vote over nearest rival Elisha McCallion.

Sinn Fein, however, will have something to say about that. As a party with ambitions of holding the levers of power on both sides of the border, they will be eager to return Padraig Delargy and Ciara Ferguson as Foyle MLAs.

Current councillors will all be vying for votes; Shaun Harkin (People Before Profit) will want to emulate his party colleague’s success in 2016, and Emmet Doyle (Aontu) and Rachael Ferguson (Alliance) have shown themselves to be tuned in tune with their local communities.

Anne McCloskey, who was elected to Derry City & Strabane district councillor for Aontu in 2019 and finished seventh in the 2016 Assembly election, will run as an Independent candidate.

The Green Party have put forward candidate Gillian Hamilton. The IRSP will look for the hardline republican vote with Colly McLaughlin, whose posters have been visible around the city.

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