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The Local Elections in the North May 25, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in Local Politics.
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With all 462 seats declared, some brief thoughts on the elections in the north (and corrections or things I have missed very welcome in the comments). The number of councils fell from 26 to 11, and the number of councillors fell by about 100. It was widely expected that the big two would benefit most from these changes, with independents and smaller parties being squeezed. One of the major questions going into the election was how what we might call Provisional gene pool anti-agreement candidates would fare (some being what would usually be called dissidents, and some not). As far as I am aware not one of the outgoing 582 councillors identified primarily as left. Being the CLR, we may as well start with the left.

The PBPA will be delighted to have taken a seat for Black Mountain in west Belfast on Belfast City Council, the first primarily left candidate to be elected to it since Seamus Lynch for the WP in 1989 I think. This was both a shock and not a shock; Gerry Carroll has had a number of good election results in recent years, so it didn’t come out the blue, but is still a very impressive achievement, especially given being elected on the second count after just missing being elected on the first. It’s worth noting he was elected despite the presence of Padraic Mac Coitir of éirígí in the same constituency, who came close to taking a seat last time (when Carroll didn’t stand in the locals) and who many people thought would take one this time if there was to be anyone elected from outside the two big nationalist parties. It could be that Carroll was able to harness the vote from left-inclined opponents of the Stormont status quo better who might previously have voted for the big two nationalists but I don’t know. Elsewhere in Belfast, it was a mixed bag for the left. The votes in South and East remained pretty stagnant, while there was some growth, from a low base, in the north, where the WP ran two young candidates. Outside Belfast, Donal O Cofaigh, a SP member, did very well with over 500 votes standing as Fermanagh against Fracking, so I guess that vote is open to interpretation as to its meaning, although there was a tradition of a left councillor in Enniskillen for a good while. The PBPA in Derry ran one candidate as opposed to 4. I still think there’s a council seat up there for them, but it would take Eamonn McCann standing himself to win it, but people who know things on the ground there may have a different view. So all in all, I think it’s fair to say a mixed result for the transformative left, with the election of Carroll standing out.

There was a time when any discussion of the self-declared left in NI would have included the PUP as a matter of course. The waters on that are a lot more muddy now than they were in Davy Ervine’s or even Dawn Purvis’s day. Leaving that question aside, it was a good election for the PUP, with 4 councillors elected (3 in Belfast, 1 extra) and nearly 13,000 votes (2% basically). Billy Hutchinson was elected on the first count. Hard to shake the feeling though that it was flags and marches that produced that result. Speaking of people whose position relative to the left is unclear, the Greens also did well. They got 4 councillors, 3 in North Down and Ards, their stronghold, and 1 in Belfast. The other centre party Alliance held most of what they had, despite claims from some unionists that they would be in serious trouble following their being blamed for the Belfast decision on flags, and the wave of attacks on their offices.

As for the big 2, Peter Robinson and co took the most seats but not the most votes, which went to Martin McGuinness and co. Both therefore are claiming victory. The UUP made some headway, while a close analysis of the figures shows the SDLP did better than some of the headline results would suggest. Other unionists did quite well, with the TUV taking 13 seats and UKIP 3 (despite Farrage being barred from being photographed in the Crown Bar). It’s possible Jim Allister may be joined by someone from his party at the next Assembly election. NI21 which was unionist, then decided it was other, but remains unionist in Stormont until the next election when it probably won’t exist due to infighting and allegations against its leader, also took a seat. Not sign of much movement on the nationalist/unionist split overall.

Regarding the provisional gene pool, some former members like Davy Hyland, Bernice Swift and Barry Monteith (also ex-éirígí I think) took or held their seats. The headline result here, however, is Gary Donnelly of the 32 CSM not only being elected but topping in the poll in his area of the new Derry/Strabane council (a couple of other independents were elected in Derry, but I don’t know their politics). An ex-IRSP candidate who missed out last time by the very slimmest of margins was elected in Strabane, but as an independent (I don’t think the IRSP ran any candidates). In Belfast, éirígí and candidates backed by the like of the Republican Network for Unity missed out, and will be disappointed. It’s possible this sort of candidate was elected elsewhere but I don’t know.

Overall then, some fraying at the edges of the two big blocs, which remain firmly in control. Some of the fraying is very welcome, and some not when we see UKIP and the TUV’s performance.

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1. Ciarán - May 25, 2014

Darren O’Reilly was elected on the first count in the Foyleside ward of Derry. He’s a member of the Independent Workers Union.

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2. BK - May 25, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE EMBARGO
PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT CANDIDATE GERRY CARROLL
ELECTED IN WEST BELFAST:

“PEOPLE ARE FED UP WITH THE STATUS QUO”

FRIDAY’S LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS signal a new dawn for politics in West Belfast, as People Before Profit candidate Gerry Carroll was elected with the third highest count in Black Mountain ward. “None of the pundits saw us coming,” Carroll observed after coming less than a hundred votes shy of topping the poll. “The assumption outside this district is that the two main nationalist parties have the area sewn up. What we have heard on the doors all through this campaign and what has been proven today is that ordinary people are fed up with the status quo. In the end we managed to take a seat from Sinn Féin, but it could have just as easily have been the SDLP: both have played a shameful role around the Casement Park development, and our vote sends a clear message that residents will not accept a sham process that has been rigged against them at every stage. I call on corporate GAA and the Antrim board in particular to come back to the table immediately and begin to repair the damage they have done.”

“Our campaign has been a fight for the soul of West Belfast, and our victory here today is only the beginning. This constituency includes some of the most socially deprived wards in the North, and the message from here is loud and clear: ordinary people have had enough. They are tired of seeing their rights trampled upon in the interests of developers, landlords, and low-wage corporate employers; they have had enough of the politics of sectarian division, and their patience is running out with a political establishment committed to gutting our public services and punishing the most vulnerable of our friends and neighbours under a regime of austerity and cuts. It is time for change and I am committed to leading and lending my support to every fight for the rights of ordinary people in this district and across the city of Belfast.”

“The conditions that brought people out to vote for change in Black Mountain ward exist in every working-class community, and on both sides of the sectarian divide. We are proud to have worked side-by-side with people on the Shankill and in the Village in the past, and will seize every opportunity to unite ordinary people against the elite who benefit from our continued division.”

“Across the city working people are struggling to keep their heads above water while our politicians spend millions of our hard-earned rates subsidising low-wage corporate employers. Our hospitals are being run down and privatized with the full support of the political establishment and our leisure centres are on the chopping block. Many of our young people are unemployed and without hope, while those fortunate enough to have work are stuck on zero-hour contracts and paid less than their counterparts anywhere in these islands. Politicians and clerics have built whole careers on whipping up sectarianism, and in recent weeks have acquiesced in or given cover to vicious racist attacks on migrant workers and their families. People Before Profit is committed to ridding this great city of the burdens of the past, and we know there are tens of thousands of ordinary people across Belfast who share our rage at the status quo and our hopes for a new dawn. We look forward to working with them and building a new Belfast that puts people before profit.”

Ends

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3. Tomboktu - May 26, 2014

From the Belfast Telegrpah:

Three gay politicians on newly elected Belfast City council

‘Imagine no longer the only gay in the village,’ tweets Sinn Fein councillor

There will be three openly gay politicians – two lesbians and a gay man – on the new Belfast City Council.

The news was revealed in a celebratory tweet from Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell of Sinn Fein after her election.

“Aren’t the electorate amazing… Imagine no longer the only gay in the village,” the north Belfast woman posted after hearing she had been returned to the new super council.

The two newcomers are Julie Anne Corr of the Progressive Unionist Party and Jeff Dudgeon of the Ulster Unionists.

Mr Dudgeon, a former civil servant, was once the best known gay activist in Northern Ireland.

In 1982 he took a landmark case to the European Court of Human Rights which resulted in male homosexuality being legalised here for the first time.

He said last night that he did not know the two women councillors and would wait to meet them before deciding whether they could cooperate on particular issues.

Ms Corr, who represents Oldpark in north Belfast, is a board member of gay helpline Carafriend.

However, she stressed that she also had other priorities.

“Whilst I am open about my sexuality, I will not let it define me or allow anyone to fit me into a neat category,” she said.

The PUP and Sinn Fein support same sex marriage, while the UUP allows a free vote on the issue.

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