Monday 15 February 2010

Dromore redux – Knockiveagh

The DUP’s councillor in Knockiveagh DEA in Banbridge, Wilfred McFadden, has died. A by-election is not out of the question.

McFadden represented a DEA that is even more evenly split than another Banbridge DEA – Dromore – that gave the DUP its first bloody nose in 2008. In 2005 the DUP won 33.2% of the vote in Knockiveagh, against the UUP’s 27.8%. (The total nationalist vote was 27.1%, which is too low to hope to benefit from a split unionist vote in an STV election).

But in 2005 there was no TUV.

In neighbouring Dromore in 2008 the TUV took around 40% of the combined DUP-TUV vote, and cost the DUP a seat that it ought to have picked up. Even half of this loss would cost the DUP McFadden’s seat.

In the European Parliament election in 2009, although Jim Allister lost his seat, he picked up around 40% of the combined DUP-TUV vote – a sign that Dromore was not just a flash in the pan.

Of course it is too early yet to know if there will actually be a by-election in Knockiveagh. The TUV have a councillor in Banbridge – Stephen Herron – but there is no certainty whether the party will wish to ‘exploit’ the death of a councillor. In Dromore the by-election was only caused by a resignation. The UUP may relish the prospect of giving their rivals a pointed defeat, but neither nationalist party will provoke a by-election – that is seen simply as bad form following the death in office of a councillor, even one from the DUP.

In any case, it is unlikely that any by-election could be held before the upcoming Westminster election, so its propaganda effect for the TUV may be reduced. In fact, if the TUV do badly in the Westminster elections and then are beaten in a by-election they could lose valuable momentum leading up to the two possible ‘big’ elections in 2011, for the Assembly and the new councils.


peteram79 said...

"that is seen simply as bad form following the death in office of a councillor, even one from the DUP"

What does that last clause mean exactly? We are discussing here the death of a 76 year old man who appears to have been a devoted and effective public servant, to the extent of winning an MBE.

I could sort of see the point if it ran along the lines of "even if he was convicted of three brutal sectarian murders and, as the self-confessed commander of the IRA's Mid-Ulster brigade between 1972-82, ultimately responsible for the 126 murders carried out by that group over that period" (a theoretical example, btw).

Being a member of a political party is not a crime, nor should it diminish someone in death. Committing coldblooded, hate-fuelled terrorist acts is a crime. I sometimes wonder if some in NI struggle with this concept.

Horseman said...


By that I meant that nationalists tend to respect the dead (leaving aside your obvious retort!). In the political scene they have always allowed co-option when a unionist dies, even where they could have picked up the seat. The same has not always been true in the other direction.

So the nationalists will allow the DUP to co-opt a replacement - even a dyed-in-the-wool bigot - for McFadden. But his own unionist side may insist on an by-election, ironically.

peteram79 said...

Fair enough, Horseman, fair enough