Wednesday 19 November 2008

Mid Ulster District Council (2011 onwards)

The reorganisation of the current 26 district councils in Northern Ireland into 11 bigger councils in 2011 will present a modified political environment. As an aside to the series of blogs looking at some of the current districts, this blog looks forward to one of the new councils that will emerge. Mid Ulster District Council will be formed from the merger of the current Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt districts. As we have previously looked at all three of these, it is easy to draw some conclusions about the new district by simply adding the statistics for the three components.


Thanks to the fact that Mid Ulster Council will comprise exactly the three old districts of Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt, the strengths of unionism and nationalism can be accurately gauged, and the theoretical electoral history of the new council can even be projected backwards. In 2005, in the area covererd by the new council, nationalism received 59.5% of the vote, and unionism received 40.2%.

The graph below shows the votes received by the two blocks as a percentage of the valid poll, and of the electorate. While unionism appears to enjoy a brief resurgence in 2005, as we have seen in the posts on the the individual current districts, this is due to a decline in the nationalist turnout in 2005, as can be seen in the second graph below.

When the votes are looked at as a percentage of the total electorate, Unionism's share is in constant decline, dipping below 30% in 2005. The nationalist share is more volatile, but its trend is upward. In 2005 the nationalist turnout dipped, but if it picks up again in 2011 the national share of the votes cast may exceed 60%, and the unionist share may fall below 40%.


Based upon the 2001 census figures the council area had a population that is 61.0% Catholic, and 37.9% Protestant. However, because of the higher proportion of Catholics amongst the children, its electorate was 58.7% Catholic, and 40.5% Protestant. Given the passage of another decade between the census (2001) and the first election for Mid Ulster Council (2011), however, these figures will have moved further in favour of Catholics. The graphs below show the percentages of Catholics and Protestants at each age in the new district in 2001, and the absolute numbers at each age in 2001:

The group on the right hand side of the graph above (those over 80) are likely to be mostly dead by the time of the first election for Mid Ulster district council in 2011. This group is fairly evenly divided between Protestants and Catholics. However, it will be replaced in the electorate by the group that were teenagers in 2001, and as the graph above shows, they are mainly Catholic (65-70%). The electorate in 2011 should be even more Catholic, and thus nationalist, than in 2005.

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