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Independent Republican Transfers March 12, 2007

Posted by franklittle in Ireland, Irish Election 2007, Northern Ireland, Republicans, Sinn Féin.

For curiosity’s sake, took a quick look at some of the transfers for Independent Republican candidates in the Assembly. Unsurprisingly, there was a clear, though not consistent, bias towards transferring to Sinn Féin candidates. It should be clear that this is on a very small sample. Not all 18 constituencies had Independent Republicans, and in a number of places like West Tyrone and Mid-Ulster, Sinn Féin candidates were elected before the Independents were eliminated.

Starting with the largest vote, Davy Hyland’s 2,268 transferred at just over 35% to Sinn Féin’s Mickey Brady. The SDLP picked up 701 votes, 279 for Sharon Haughey and 422 for Dominic Bradley. The high vote for the latter related no doubt to him being a Newry based candidate, like Hyland. About a third of Hyland’s votes were non-transferable.

In Foyle, Peggy O’Hara’s vote was interesting as it was the second worst Independent Republican vote for transferring to Sinn Féin. Eamon McCann of the SWP picked up 588, SDLP candidates picked up 471 and Sinn Féin got 440, just under a quarter. Somewhat similarly, Geraldine Taylor’s RSF vote in West Belfast of 437, went best to Seán Mitchell of the SWP who picked up 139 votes, with the SDLP collecting 85 and Sinn Féin 88, just over 20%. The antagonism between RSF and Sinn Féin on the ground in West Belfast might have it’s part to play here.

In South Down, former Sinn Féin councillor Martin Cunningham saw his vote continue to decline and he picked up 448 votes. When he was eliminated, it was at the same time as 755 Alliance votes, but they would be more likely to transfer to SDLP, Green and UUP than to Sinn Féin or the DUP. On that count, Sinn Féin picked up 220 votes, the SDLP 190 and the Greens 323. It’s difficult to see much of Sinn Féin’s vote coming from Alliance and some of the SDLP vote must have. Certainly, it’s a transfer rate within the republican bloc of around 40%.

A similar picture can be seen in Fermanagh/South Tyrone where Gerry McGeough (827) and McManus of RSF (432) got eliminated along with 536 Alliance votes. The Sinn Féin candidates picked up 633, the SDLP picked up 495. Again, this suggests a substantial inter-republican transfer of possibly as high as 50%, but more likely in the 40s.

The last two constituencies were smaller. Barry Toman of RSF polled 419 votes and was eliminated with a couple of hardline independent unionists. We can assume therefore that the 139 (33%) votes Sinn Féin got, and the 84 (20%) the SDLP picked up, were from him. In East Derry, the RSF’s McGonigle was eliminated with 395 votes alongside an Independent Unionist. Thus, again, we can assume the bulk of the 231 (58%) received by Sinn Féin, and the 43 (11%) received by the SDLP, were from him. Interestingly, of the Sinn Féin vote, only 16 were transferred to former RUC officer Billy Leonard.

Are there trends here? Well on such a small sample, this needs to be taken with no shortage of salt but it seems there is a little bit of an urban/rural divide. In West Belfast and Foyle, Sinn Féin and the SDLP got about the same from Independent Republicans, but the SWP got more than either. In rural areas though, the Sinn Féin vote was much higher, recording transfer rates in the 40s and even 50s.

We’re talking about small figures here, but if there are Independent Republicans running in the Super Council elections, small handfuls of transfers could make a difference. It’s also interesting to wonder how many of these voters were new voters who had abstained in the past but once drawn to the polling booth, decided to transfer. In theory, as well as winning over former Sinn Féin voters, Independents could have brought out an alienated republican vote that then transferred to Sinn Féin, though it is more likely that in rural constituencies these were Sinn Féin voters sending a protest signal.


1. WorldbyStorm - March 12, 2007

I’m puzzled (and yeah, I’ll admit it – entertained) by those who transferred to the SDLP. I’m also presuming none at all transferred to a Unionist candidate.

As regards the protest signal, what is the message here? That they might switch in the long term to independent Republicans?


2. Ciarán - March 12, 2007

Apparently a large portion (or maybe just a portion) of Geraldine Taylor’s vote in West Belfast went to Diane Dodds of the DUP. 125 of Taylor’s votes are unaccounted for when after you remove the transfers to the SDLP, SF and SWP. Assuming that there were people who gave their first preference to RSF and didn’t write down a second, there’s still potentially a few votes there that went the DUP’s way (perhaps as many as went to Sinn Féin). I suppose the strategy behind this would have been to prevent SF from gaining a fifth seat as a protest against their own strategy.


3. WorldbyStorm - March 12, 2007

Hmmm…interesting point Ciarán about a strategy, although I was also looking at David Hylands distribution and you’d have to wonder do people actually look at the ballot paper at all.


4. franklittle - March 13, 2007

Actually Ciarán only six votes went to the DUP from Geraldine Taylor. I suspect most of the votes that didn’t go SF/SDLP/SWP were non transferable.

But I think your point, touched on by WBS, is still correct. There seems to be a good proportion of Independent Republican candidates who will transfer to anyone but Sinn Féin, even the SDLP.


5. Ciarán - March 13, 2007

That’s ineresting because I know a few republicans who were talking about doing it, but I guess when it came down to it they just couldn’t vote for someone who declares her family values credentials by opposing equality for gays.


6. Brian Johnson - March 17, 2007


Congressman Ron Paul, a man who truly believes in freedom, is running for the Republican nomination for president. I’m working to gather support so Congressman Paul will become a candidate.



7. WorldbyStorm - March 18, 2007

Hmmm… A Cedar Lounge Revolution endorsement for Ron Paul?

We’ll get back to you.


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