Newry Mourne and Down: Independents and Alliance surge with voter ‘apathy’ for bigger parties

Independent Jarlath Tinnelly celebrates after topping the poll in his area.
Independent Jarlath Tinnelly celebrates after topping the poll in his area.
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Two more independents took council seats this time around, up to five, while Alliance enjoyed a substantial updraft in their support, coming close to doubling its seats.

The independents performed very strongly across a number of areas, Jarlath Tinnelly and Gavin Malone topping the polls in Crotlieve and Newry respectively, while Cadogan Enright came second in Downpatrick, Mark Gibbons third in Crotlieve and independent unionist Henry Reilly retaining his seat in Mourne.

Jarlath Tinnelly exhibited a startling turn around in fortunes, having been the last councillor elected in 2014 with 740 votes, almost doubling his vote to 1,412 to top the poll this time. His secret, he said, was hard work on the ground and a strong canvassing team.

“But I am also very conscious that there is an apathy towards the bigger parties,” he said. “Independents are very much about dealing with day-to-day things that are happening to people. I think there was too much emphasis on national issues in this election such as Brexit and a united Ireland.”

The two Alliance candidates elected were Patrick Brown, who topped the Rowallane poll with 1,416 votes, and Gregory Bain, who was elected in Slieve Croob. Mr Brown said Alliance had grown from 1,500 votes for three candidates in 2014 to some 5,100 this time out with seven.

“We were very close to having another two candidates elected, with Andrew McMurray falling short by only 30 votes in the Mournes and Helena Young by 44 in Newry,” he said.

“This time we had seven candidates out, one in each electoral area. We simply had so many members and activists wanting to run.”

The party had been building strength in the area in recent Assembly and Westminster elections, he said.

“The Alliance vote was there, there were enough people there if you do the groundwork and persuade them.”

DUP MLA Jim Wells was pleased that eight unionist seats were retained, though the DUP dropped one to victims’ campaigner and UUP candidate Alan Lewis, who topped the Slieve Croob poll.

“The major surprise was the performance of the three independents in Crotlieve and Cadogen Enright in Downpatrick,” Mr Wells said. “The anticipated surge of the Sinn Fein vote was not as significant as anticipated, going from 14 seats to 16, and the council remains with no party in overall control.”

SDLP MLA and party chair Colin McGrath noted that his party dropped from 14 to 11 seats. “We did a lot better in 2014 than we expected so this election just settled us down to our natural level,” he said. Turnout was 56.12%, up from 52.10% in 2014.

NEWLY ELECTED COUNCILLORS BY PARTY;

SINN FEIN (16)

Gerry O’Hare

Mickey Ruane

Oonagh Hanlon

Charlie Casey

Valerie Harte

Liz Kimmins

Roisin Howell

Cathy Mason

Terry Hearty

Mickey Larkin

Oonagh Magennis

Roisin Mulgrew

Barra O’Muiri

Willie Clarke

Sean Doran

Leeanne McEvoy

SDLP (11)

Declan McAteer

Karen McKevitt

Gareth Sharvin

John Trainor

Dermot Curran

Michael Savage

Gary John Stokes

Terry Andrews

Hugh Gallagher

Pete Byrne

Laura Devlin

INDEPENDENTS (5)

Mark Gibbons

Jarlath Tinnelly

Cadogan Enright

Gavin Malone

Henry Reilly

UUP (4)

Robert Burgess

Alan Lewis

David Taylor

Harold McKee

DUP (3)

Harry Harvey

William Walker

Glyn Hanna

ALLIANCE (2)

Patrick Brown

Gregory Bain

FIRST PREFERENCE VOTES;

CROTLIEVE:

Jim Boylan (Independent) 788

Michael Carr (SDLP) 808

Mark Gibbons (Independent) ELECTED 1189

Joshua Lowry (UUP) 712

Declan McAteer (SDLP) ELECTED 1175

Wilma McCullough (DUP) 371

Lorcan McGreevy (Alliance) 483

Karen McKevitt (SDLP) ELECTED 1116

Oksana McMahon (Sinn Fein) 809

Gerry O’Hare (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1286

Mickey Ruane (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 812

Jarlath Tinnelly (Independent) ELECTED 1412

Mary Tinnelly (Sinn Fein) 519

DOWNPATRICK:

Alex Burgess (UUP) 345

Dermot Curran (SDLP) ELECTED 940

Macartan Digney (Aontu) 475

Cadogan Enright (Independent) ELECTED 1052

Oonagh Hanlon (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1032

Jamie Kennedy (Green Party NI) 128

Tiernan Laird (Alliance) 375

Jordan Madden (Sinn Fein) 833

James Savage (DUP) 149

Gareth Sharvin (SDLP) ELECTED 1395

John Trainor (SDLP) ELECTED 664

NEWRY:

Charlie Casey (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1230

Valerie Harte (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1045

Liz Kimmins (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1374

Gavin Malone (Independent) ELECTED 2296

Sarah Jane McAllister (Sinn Fein) 784

Ricky McGaffin (UUP) 341

Michael Savage (SDLP) ELECTED 1231

Gary John Stokes (SDLP) ELECTED 878

Helena Young (Alliance) 721

ROWALLANE:

Terry Andrews (SDLP) ELECTED 1211

Patrick Brown (Alliance) ELECTED 1416

Robert Burgess (UUP) ELECTED 842

Emma Cairns (Green Party NI) 182

Marianne Cleary (Sinn Fein) 622

Harry Harvey (DUP) ELECTED 1265

Walter Lyons (UUP) 667

Liam Mulhern (Aontu) 99

Martyn Todd (Independent) 477

William Walker (DUP) ELECTED 985

SLIEVE CROOB:

Gregory Bain (Alliance) ELECTED 863

Hugh Gallagher (SDLP) ELECTED 880

Maynard Hanna (DUP) 868

Tracy Harkin (Aontu) 481

Roisin Howell (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1035

Alan Lewis (UUP) ELECTED 1303

Cathy Mason (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1069

Mark Murnin (SDLP) 796

John Rice (Sinn Fein) 884

SLIEVE GULLION:

Pete Byrne (SDLP) ELECTED 1643

Balazs Gazdag (Alliance) 361

Terry Hearty (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1876

Linda Henry (DUP) 315

Mickey Larkin (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1646

Kate Loughran (SDLP) 1059

Oonagh Magennis (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1622

Roisin Mulgrew (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1362

Barra O’Muiri (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1351

David Taylor (UUP) ELECTED 1287

MOURNES:

Willie Clarke (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1154

Laura Devlin (SDLP) ELECTED 1572

Sean Doran (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1885

Glyn Hanna (DUP) ELECTED 1944

Leeanne McEvoy (Sinn Fein) ELECTED 1097

Harold McKee (UUP) ELECTED 1455

Andrew McMurray (Alliance) 943

Brian Quinn (SDLP) 607

Henry Reilly (Independent) ELECTED 1447