Derry and Strabane: Sinn Fein and SDLP vie for party dominance

Dery Council Buildings
Dery Council Buildings

There is little doubt that the new north-west council will be a large “green” patch on the Province’s political map.

However, just how hardline this nationalist chunk of Northern Ireland will be is very much up to the voters of the region.

When Derry City and Strabane merge together, their current crop of 46 councillors (16 of them in Strabane) will go down to 40 overall.

Both are nationalist dominated – but Strabane boasts much more of a Sinn Fein power-base than Derry City, which is a bastion of the SDLP.

So there is a concern for unionists that the new council which is elected on May 22 will be made up of two parties more-or-less equally balanced, or possibly with Sinn Fein coming out stronger.

Half of Strabane’s 16 seats are now held by Sinn Fein (with a mere one held by the SDLP), whereas in Derry City the party holds 10 of the 30 seats (against 14 SDLP, which has dominated the city’s political landscape since the 1970s).

Derry City’s longest-serving unionist, Alderman Joe Miller of the DUP, who himself is not seeking re-election, said: “Because Sinn Fein are strong in Strabane, you could possibly see Sinn Fein being the strongest party (in the new council) over the SDLP”.

But he also added it is possible the unionist block on the new council “will have a sufficient number of votes that no one nationalist party would have an overall majority”.

The new supercouncil in which the successful candidates are going to serve will only be fully up-and-running from April 2015.

Until then, these newly-mandated councillors will work on finalising practical arrangements for how the new authority will function.

Unlike a number of the new super-councils, the new north-west superauthority will at least have a seemingly natural and obvious centre – Londonderry’s Guildhall.

It is here that the first council meeting after the election will be held, on June 11.

It is likely that this will continue as the centre of council business, although it is also thought some committees may run from Strabane.

However, such arrangements are yet to be finalised.

Perhaps the area of most interest to the unionist electorate is the famously red, white and blue Waterside district in the east of Londonderry city.

The District Electoral Area (as it is known) has undergone some changes, and has increased in size considerably.

Previously it had 15,200 voters – now it will have 18,600, and takes in parts of Prehen, Strabane Old Road and Ivy Mead, as well as Summer Meadows.

As well as six standing in the ward for the traditional unionist parties (two UUP and four DUP), there will also be competition from two UKIP councillors vying for seats – Kyle Thompson and David Malcolm, formerly a spokesman for the UPRG.

However, based on the 2011 results, the city does not tend to favour those outside the mainstream – it presently has zero independents, fringe unionists or nationalists, and no Alliance Party councillors.

That is reflected in the relative paucity of those from outside the traditional orange and green folds on the ballot papers on May 22 – a far cry from the picture on the east coast, where a raft of smaller parties and non-affiliated candidates vie, often successfully, for seats.

Besides the smattering of independents and non-Big Four candidates (see list below), it looks set to be a pretty straight race among the main established parties.

Your candidates:


Jimmy Carr (SDLP)

Angela Dobbins (SDLP)

Sandra Duffy (SF)

Tony Hassan (SF)

Elisha McCallion (SF)

Danny McClosky (Alliance)

Colm O’Connor (SDLP)

Dermot Dee Quigley (Independent)

Brian Tierney (SDLP)


Marie Ash (SDLP)

Derek R Hussey (UUP)

Thomas Kerrigan (DUP)

Kieran McGuire (SF)

Maoliosa McHugh (SF)

Jim McIntyre (SDLP)

Robert Oliver (DUP)

Sharon Smyth (DUP)


Geoff Cruickshank (UKIP)

Maurice Devenny (DUP)

Paul Fleming (SF)

Gus Hastings (SDLP)

David Hawthorne (Alliance)

Paul Hughes (Independent)

Michael McCrossan (SF)

Ronnie McKeegan (UUP)

Jim McKeever (SDLP)

Gary Middleton (DUP)

Brenda Stevenson (SDLP)


John Boyle (SDLP)

Daniel Comer (Alliance)

Mickey Cooper (SF)

Shauna Cusack (SDLP)

Rory Farrell (SDLP)

Sha Gillespie (People Before Profit Alliance)

Eric McGinley (SF)

Barney O’Hagan (SF)

Darren Pio O’Reilly (Independent)


Allan Bresland (DUP)

Karina Carlin (SF)

Paul Gallagher (Independent)

Rhonda Hamilton (DUP)

William Jamieson (UUP)

Dan Kelly (SF)

Patsy Kelly (SDLP)

Patrick Leonard (SDLP)

Brian McMahon (SF)

Eugene Anthony McMenamin (Independent)

Liam Stewart (SDLP)

Diarmuid Ward (SF)


Kevin Campbell (SF)

Sean Carr (SDLP)

Gary John Donnelly (Independent)

Emmet Doyle (SDLP)

Liam Friel (SF)

Dermott Sean Henderson (SDLP)

Colly Kelly (SF)

Patricia Logue (SF)

Patrick Mellon (Independent)


Michael Carlin (no party listed)

Gerard Martin Diver (SDLP)

Nigel Gardiner (PUP)

Mary Hamilton (UUP)

Christopher Jackson (SF)

Julia Kee (UUP)

Asta Kereviciene (Alliance)

Dave Malcolm (UKIP)

Hiliary McClintock (DUP)

Niree McMorris (DUP)

Bridget Meehan (SF)

David Ramsey (DUP)

Martin Reilly (SDLP)

Drew Thompson (DUP)

Kyle Thompson (UKIP)