?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Samuel F B Morse has a posse
elections, music, exotic religion... and amateur radio
2007 Assembly Election Guide: Constituency No. 12 of 18 - North Antrim 
23rd-Feb-2007 11:45 pm
morse key, straight key
map 1
Maps by Conal Kelly and Nicholas Whyte


North Antrim consists of three whole Districts - Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle-centred Moyle. Left untouched by the boundary commissioners for more almost thirty years, it is now distinctly oversized with by far the largest electorate of any of the 18 constituencies.

Apart from the district centres, the main towns and villages are Bushmills, Rasharkin, Dunloy, Clogh Mills, Cullybackey, Ahoghill, Portglenone, Broughshane and Kells. However these neat, often rather non-descript villages, are less well known than North Antrim's abundance of tourist attractions - the Giant's Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the Oul' Lammas Fair, St. Patrick's mountain of Slemish, the Antrim Coast Road and the Glens and Plateau of Antrim.



While the rugged coast and high plateau get most of the tourist attention, the bulk of the rural population lives in the fertile valleys of the Bann, Braid, Main and Bush Rivers. This area has also had a lot of industry, and Ballymena, home to a quarter of the constituency's population, is still a major manufacturing centre. Urban myth has always held Ballymena to have the highest concentration of millionaires in Northern Ireland, perhaps a nod to the town's reputation for a thrift borne of its Scottish heritage. Scattered across the landscape are little ex-industrial villages like Balnamore. However, agriculture is perceived to dominate here, and indeed does employ almost 1 in 7 workers; a minority, but a very significant one. Tourism is also of huge economic importance, especially in Ballycastle, the Glens and Causeway Coast, while Bushmills' industrial economy is dominated by a very special product. While the overall population density is lower than the Northern Ireland average, this is to a large degree influenced by the virtually uninhabited Antrim Plateau.

Overall, this is a relatively prosperous constituency, with unemployment lower and incomes higher than the Northern Ireland average. Ballymena Town contains the only areas which deviate significantly from this norm, with the Ballykeel and Ballee Estates among the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland, and the middle-class districts along the Cullybackey, Carniny and Galgorm Roads and out to Gracehill among Northern Ireland's most prosperous. As far as the rest of the constituency goes, the Glens, Ballymoney and the area around Bushmills have slightly higher than average levels of deprivation, the higher reaches of the Bann Valley and Ballycastle are close to the NI average, while the rural areas around Ballymena and the Lower Bann are slightly better off than average. Both Ballycastle and Ballymoney have their leafy lanes and deprived estates, although nothing extreme.

North Antrim has an odd age pyramid - although the population is slightly older than the Northern Ireland average, the fertility rate is very slightly above the average (1.86 as opposed to 1.80). The older urban areas, especially the middle-class ones, help keep the average down but most of the rural areas have fertility rates close to or even above the replacement level of 2.1. Communal differences in birth rate drove significant demographic change in North Antrim in the 1980s and 1990s, but that seems to be less the case now. While the Glens and Dunloy have well above average birthrates, so do some of the overwhelmingly Protestant rural communities around Bushmills and Ballymoney. In general, the fertility rates are much lower in the South of the constituency.

North Antrim is the 6th most Protestant constituency (68% Protestant, 30% Catholic). Some rural areas here are almost entirely dominated by one community, in patterns that are often centuries old. The Glens are almost entirely Catholic, and the Antrim Plateau from Loughgiel down to Martinstown is only slightly less so. In contrast, the area between Ballymoney and Bushmills and the rural area outside Ballymena are almost entirely Protestant. The Bann Valley is more mixed, with a Protestant majority of roughly 2-to-1.

In Ballymena, the Catholic population is concentrated around the Cushendall and Broughshane Roads, although this area is mixed with a definite Protestant minority even in Fisherwick (or at least there was in 2001). There are very few Catholics in the sprawling loyalist-dominated housing estates south of Ballymena town centre, while the rest of the town is the reverse of the Broughshane Road area, with a definite Protestant majority but a stable and well integrated Catholic minority.

Overall, however, the historic pattern of settlement means that smaller towns here are usually dominated by one section community to an extent unusual even in Northern Ireland. The Catholic population in the constituency's main settlements is as follows - Ballymena 24%, Ballymoney 17%, Ballycastle 78%, Broughshane 5%, Cullybackey 1%, Ahoghill 6%, Bushmills 2%, Dunloy 97%, Cushendall 97%, Portgelnone 47%, Kells 1%, Balnamore 6%, Dervock 6%, Rasharkin 74%, Waterfoot 98%

Nicholas Whyte's figures show that last time Sinn Féin gained a seat here, with the SDLP holding on to make sure the Ulster Unionists were the party to lose out by around 1,000 votes. In Paisley's heartland, the DUP of course dominated for a final result of DUP 3, UUP 1, Sinn Féin 1 and SDLP 1.

The Nationalist vote has been creeping up here, and while there were not quite 2 Quotas in 2005, there would probably be enough transfers from Alliance to the SDLP that the two nationalist seats are safe in any circumstances.

Sinn Féin first outpolled the SDLP here in the 2003 Assembly election, and built on that lead in 2005. There have been internal ructions within Sinn Féin here with the Portglenone branch of the party resigning en masse over the policing issue and sitting MLA Philip McGuigan standing down, allegedly because of his friendship with Dennis Donaldson.

During the troubles, this was an area with relatively little IRA activity and virtually no Sinn Féin base outside of Rasharkin and Dunloy. Sinn Féin have managed to spread their wings virtually throughout the constituency these days, and are well organised here. However, in an ironic twist, they will face dissident opposition here in the face of Paul McGlinchey, brother of Dominic 'Mad Dog' McGlinchey. There has been some Real IRA activity in Ballymena (of all places) and North Antrim seems to be an area where attitudes among some young Catholics are hardening. However McGlinchey will make a limited impact and Ballymoney councillor Daithi McKay will have no trouble in inheriting the Sinn Féin seat.

SDLP veteran Seán Farren is also standing down, and the SDLP are fielding two candidates in long standing Ballymena Councillor Declan O'Loan and Cushendall Councillor Orla Black. The SDLP have helpfully published their vote management strategy on their North Antrim website, and it seems O'Loan is getting 60% of the SDLP vote. Black has the alphabet in her favour, but O'Loan has the advantage of long experience on Ballymena Council and the contacts that go with it. Black is said to have a personal appeal well beyond her party label, but her base in the Glens has only a tiny electorate, and ultimately I think O'Loan will nick this one. In any case, one SDLP seat is safe.

On the Unionist side, there is now only one UUP seat left, with their vote barely even scraping the one quota mark in the 2005 Westminster elections. Indeed, there has been some speculation that even this seat is under threat, but in the local elections on the same day they polled 1.29 Quotas' worth. With long standing Ballymena councillor and two-term MLA Bob Coulter the lead UUP candidate instead of London-based barrister Rodney McCune, who stood against Paisley in 2005, their seat should be safe, especially as things are not all rosy in the local DUP camp. The UUP are running a second candidate, Connor farmer Robin Swann, but he failed to be elected to Ballymena Council in 2005 and without vote management, I can't see him doing much here.

That probably means there are no more than three seats for the DUP. Paisley polled 3.8 Quotas for the DUP in the Westminster election, fuelling speculation that the DUP could win four seats here. The DUP have nominated four candidates here and it's not an absolute impossibility that they could do it, particularly as their transferring has historically been very tight here, with Paisley's surplus usually going to other DUP candidates at over 90%. However, the UUP, SDLP and Sinn Féin quotas all look reasonably secure and in the 2005 local government elections, the DUP polled a slightly more modest 3.4 Quotas.

Besides, to win four seats from even a base of 3.8 quotas would require expert vote management; balancing four candidates when two of them are called Paisley is probably the most difficult vote management task in the book. Although the Paisleys have always been careful to leave the third runner here with a reasonable first preference base, in contrast to other DUP prominenti, winning four would require management on a different scale. The DUP are giving it a go, but it may be beyond them,

As well as Paisleys Senior and Junior, the DUP are running Ballymoney-based Mervyn Storey again, along with first-term Ballymena councillor Deirdre Nelson. The selection of the rather 'New DUP' looking Nelson shows smarter selection tactics than the DUP have used in other areas, but as someone who only moved to Ballymena from Belfast in 2001, she may be a weakish link.

The main fly in the DUP's ointment is the presence of Lyle Cubitt, running on an anti-deal platform for the UKUP. Cubitt, whose brother is standing for the UKUP in East Derry, is a Ballymena solicitor well known for being a serial writer to the Newsletter's letters page. With seven of the party's 14 strong group on Ballymena council refusing to canvass for the DUP due to their personal opposition to power sharing with Sinn Féin, there is clearly mileage for him, and Cubitt is well known in Ballymena. In fact, with the possible exception of McCartney and his unusual situation in North Down, he has by far the best prospects of any dissident Unionist candidate in this election.

How good are his chances? Like other candidates coming from one or other extreme of the party system, I reckon he needs to poll the guts of a quota, somewhere in the region 12.5% or 13%, on first preferences to win a seat. I don't know what sort of campaign infrastructure he has, if any, so I can't make a realistic assessment of whether he can do this. But he has a better chance than any candidate, other than Bob himself, of doing it.

Back in 1998, Alliance could have felt they had a reasonable outside bet of taking a seat here, with David Alderdice having polled 6% in 1997. Since then, their vote has dwindled badly as it has in other 'second tier' Alliance areas like East Derry and Upper Bann. Jayne Dunlop did push her vote back over the 1000 mark in the 2005 general election vote, and she will want to push it up further to try and establish a bridgehead for the supercouncil elections. But she has no chance of coming close to a seat, and presumably local resources will be being directed to South Antrim.

Finally, James Gregg, an Independent from Clough, finishes off the ballot paper. I know nothing more about this candidate (in a depressing admission of defeat) and would welcome any information anyone has about him.

2003 vote - DUP 45.9%/3.21Q, UUP 21.6%/1.51Q, SF 14.0%/0.98Q, SDLP 13.6%/0.95Q, Alliance 2.0%/0.14Q, Oth U 2.8%/0.20Q.

Candidates - DUP: Deirdre NELSON, Ian PAISLEY Sr.*, Ian PAISLEY Jr*, Mervyn STOREY*. UUP: Bob COULTER*, Robert SWANN. SF: Daithi McKAY. SDLP: Orla BLACK, Declan O'LOAN. Alliance: Jayne DUNLOP. UKUP: Lyle CUBITT. Republican SF+: Paul McGLINCHEY. Independent: James GREGG. (*=Sitting MLA; +Will appear on the ballot paper without a party label)

Prediction: 3 DUP, 1 Sinn Féin, 1 SDLP, 1 UUP.
Comments 
24th-Feb-2007 09:17 pm (UTC)
Is the SDLP seat really that safe? They've been on the back foot here for some time, are losing a long standing candidate and suffered a big drop in their vote in both the 2005 locals and Westminster election. A leakage to SF and Alliance combined with the silly decision to run two candidates could scupper them. They should hold but I think this is one place where they could come unstuck if all goes bad on the day.
24th-Feb-2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
At 85% of the quota the SDLP are operating a strategic vote management approach. Many insiders are predicting Orla Black to push O'Loan very hard to take the SDLP seat despite the latter's allocation of a greater share of the constituency.
25th-Feb-2007 09:23 am (UTC)
Yes, I've heard Orla Black has a giant fan club up in the The Glens, even from people who wouldn't normally touch the SDLP with a bargepole.

Her problem is that The Glens has only a tiny population - is she known and can she pull votes off O'Loan in his vote management area, around Ballymena, Ballymoney and Rasharkin? If it was a beauty contest, then she'd wins hands down, but then if elections were beauty contests do you think we'd be talking about Peter Weir MLA?
25th-Feb-2007 09:20 am (UTC)
I think it is. There was a lot of talk that SF were going to run two candidates here (presumably McGuigan and McKay, or maybe even McKay and Anita Cavlan), but they only ended up running one after McGuigan was forced out and local post-PSNI ructions. Whichever Stoop comes out on top should get enough transfers from Daithi McKay and Jayne Dunlop, and maybe even a few from Robin Swann, to be safe.

The only circumstances I can see the SDLP being at risk are if are if disaffected Republicans stay at home and/or Cubitt is able to bring out some of the many "be ye separate" North Antrim Evangelicals who don't normally vote. Come to think about it, if McGlinchey manages to drag McKay below they quota on the first count, then the SDLP might end up being dependent on McGlinchey's transfers which would be much less helpful than SF ones. And that might make it a bit tight, as there aren't quite two Nationalist quotas here.
25th-Feb-2007 12:23 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
SF members in North Antrim are saying that many SDLP voters are going to vote for SF for the first time because of the Ard Fheis decision and I would say that this will outweigh any votes they would lose to McGlinchey. The fact that Farren isn't standing this time as well will be a major factor. McGlinchey pasted a lot of his posters over a hunger-strike memorial in Fisherwick which hasn't gone down well among some of his potential voters in Ballymena and I don't believe he will get more than 500-600 votes overall.

SF should come in over the quota and the distribution of their surplus will be interesting as a lot of their votes could distribute to Black rather than O'Loan, but some of these may be distributed through McGlinchey first.

I wouldn't rule out Cubitt and Gregg getting half a quota between them and Cubitt may be in with a shout of a seat here on a good day.
25th-Feb-2007 12:51 pm (UTC)
I agree entirely about McGlinchey's likely vote.

Who is Gregg? I know nothing about him.
25th-Feb-2007 12:23 am (UTC) - Minor corrections
Anonymous
while the rest of the town is the reverse of the Broughshane Road area, with a definite Protestant minority but a stable and well integrated Catholic minority.

Presumably this should read "Protestant majority"?

Also, on your previous profile, presumably the Catholic population of Newry is 92%, not 8%?

Excellent work, btw.
25th-Feb-2007 09:24 am (UTC) - Re: Minor corrections
They should indeed. I really do appreciate the corrections as, lacking a proofreader, the comments are the only way I can pick up on mistakes.
25th-Feb-2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
I have been very much out and about lately and have had quite
a few people actually say that they will be voting SDLP for the first time and not Sinn Fein.
I think there will be some will sway from both of them to the other and will balance out fairly evenly.
Daithi Mc Kay is apparently not the rep that Mc Guigan was and is losing alot of support especially around Dunloy area. Orla Black seems to be very popular but in an area of only 40% she would have to eat well into OLoans area to win a seat. She might just do it though as alot of people arent too fond of O Loan.
Mc Glinchey will do alright around the Ballymena and Ballymoney area but not in Moyle.
It will be just as you say Sammy 3 DUP, 1SF, 1SDLP and 1UUP
25th-Feb-2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
I belive with excellent vote management the DUP could take a 4th seat, but not this around considering the ructions that havebeen caused due to the SAA.
26th-Feb-2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
"In Ballymena, the Catholic population is concentrated around the Cullybackey and Broughshane Roads"
There is very few Catholics living on the Cullybackey rd.I believe you meant the Cushendall and Broughshane Roads.
26th-Feb-2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Doh! Of course - the Cullybackey Road is on the other side of town. I've changed it. Thanks for pointing it out.
27th-Feb-2007 02:50 pm (UTC) - Posters in Ballycastle
Anonymous
In Ballycastle Sinn Fein have blatantly postered over existing SDLP (Diamond) and Paul McGlinchey (Castle St) posters. Perhaps they are building an Ireland Of Equals!!!!!!
27th-Feb-2007 08:07 pm (UTC) - Moyle Council
Anonymous
Jealous Shinners and Unionists on Moyle Council blocked a motion from Orla Black SDLP candidate relating to road safety measures in Glenravel, the scene of a recent tragedy.

SHAME ON THEM !!!!
4th-Mar-2007 12:47 pm (UTC) - Re: Moyle Council
Anonymous
Er, maybe thats because Glenravel isn't in Moyle Council?? Maybe it was Orla using it for election purposes?
4th-Mar-2007 06:29 pm (UTC) - Re: Moyle Council
Anonymous
A group of young people asked Orla to raise the issue in Council as well as as many groups/organisations she could in order to lobby for these safety measures to be put in place.

It is a shame that when something so important comes up in Council that those who dont propose it rubbish it just because it wasnt their idea!

The road is the main road to the Glens and part of it is within Moyle Council area so there should have been no reason why it couldnt have been agreed upon and discussed. It is alright when SF want to talk about the undocumented Irish or the Causway Hospital which dont directly relate to the Moyle area but sure that is democracy for you isnt it! I am sure Daithi wont be telling too many voters around Glenravel that the shinners blocked the motion!!!!!!!????????? Maybe the SDLP will? Petty politics!
5th-Mar-2007 01:51 am (UTC) - Re: Moyle Council
Anonymous
How in the name of God does Causeway Hospital not effect Moyle Council and its ratepayers, sure its the local hospital!!

The place for a problem with a road in Ballymena Borough to be brought up in is obviously Ballymena Council!
5th-Mar-2007 10:43 pm (UTC) - Re: Moyle Council
Anonymous
So the main road to the Glens - in fact the Gateway to the Glens has nothing to do with Moyle dwellers then? Surely road safety is extremely important regardless of which council area it is situated in if it is one travelled daily on by Moyle people?

Antrim Hospital is actually the local hostpital to the mid glens folk and not Coleraine - so should we neglect the main road to it?

Catch yourself on and start talking sense - I could see ur point if Orla was proposing to fix pot holes on Wellington Street but not this so start thinking about the people and stop playing political football!!
27th-Feb-2007 08:14 pm (UTC) - Tweed to go?
Mark Davenport is reporting on his blog that Davy Tweed is about to resign from the DUP. A late fillip for Cubitt's campaign?
9th-Aug-2010 09:18 am (UTC) - Re: Tweed to go?
Imports from China aren’t wee to jewelry stores labor-intensive Tiffany jewelry sectors but secure bamboo fiber high-tech sectors, golf clubs cheap eat up place automation, telecommunications besides electrical appliances beijing massage again family Famous Watch Brands organisation. Tiffany Jewelry outlet Statistics expose this dab; bamboo fiber sheets leading cargo sway solution of consumer goods.
18th-Feb-2011 05:36 pm (UTC) - [BUY] Super Cheap SEO VPS - Earn more online
Anonymous
Hi,

Are you into doing Seo work or simply just spamming weblogs? Well i am able to offer you a very cheap VPS with the following software installed (You use my license!)

SENuke pro edition (Normally costs $127 per month)
Scrapebox ($97)
The Best Spinner ($77 yearly)

Watch my quick YouTube video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paExU60Hy8A

You can get usage of all three of these super powerful SEO tools for a small fee of $50 monthly.

The VPS server itself is super powerful and fast, you won't find this kind of offer anywhere else for this sort of price!

Visit http://hellomotow.net To learn more
This page was loaded Oct 18th 2017, 12:43 pm GMT.