Thursday 6 May 2010

Ní beidh a leithéid arís ann

Today marks a sad day in Northern Ireland's electoral history. No, not the unpleasantness in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, or even the disappointments elsewhere.

Today marks the end of a long and unpretentious tradition in Northern Ireland, probably dating back a hundred years. For today is the very last district council by-election that Northern Ireland will ever enjoy – Castlereagh East.

In March the law changed to allow the parties to nominate a replacement for any seat that becomes 'casually vacant', but the Notice of Election for Iris Robinson's seat on Castlereagh Borough Council was published just a few days before the law changed, and thus the election will go ahead. Treasure it, though, because it will be the last.

So while 99% of the voters in Northern Ireland will be faced with a single ballot paper today, the lucky – and historic – few in Castlereagh East (all 14,000 or so of them) will be faced with two.

Almost definitely the DUP will win this small victory, but equally certainly the world will not notice. Other events will overshadow the sadness of Castlereagh East. The world will be a slightly emptier place, and a slightly less democratic one, without the sporadic fun of a district council by-election.

The parties may not mourn your passing – after all it will save them money, effort and uncertainty. The District Councils blessed with casual vacancies will save around £25,000 each time, to the rate-payers relief. The Electoral Office too will enjoy the longer periods of quiet between the major elections – and may even be able to save the tax-payer some money too.

So slip away into the night, dear district council by-election – you will not be entirely forgotten – in the hearts of Northern Ireland's small band of psephologists you will always be remembered with nostalgia.


Nordie Northsider said...

I don't like to be pedantic, Horseman, but that should be 'leithéid'. I only mention it because it reminds me of a gravestone I saw in a Dublin cemetery: 'Ní bheidh a leithead arís ann' ('Never again shall there be one as broad as her')Not as intended, I fear.

Horseman said...

Pedantry gratefully accepted, Nordie Northsider - and I've already changed the title!

I should have remembered to look it up in a dictionary before I left home - or checked it in An tOileánach (the origin of the phrase, IIRC) - also sitting snugly on the shelf at home.


Anonymous said...

Are the counts starting tonight or tomorrow in the North?

Paddy Canuck said...

Nordie Northsider said: "I don't like to be pedantic..."

Yes you do. We ALL do. It's genetic. It's why we've been to the moon and the raccoons haven't (that, and there's not much garbage there yet). :)

hoboroad said...

When David Cameron was a press officer for Carlton TV
he used to pretend to be the cleaner when he answered
the phone to someone he didn't want to speak to.

New times, New approach said...

If yiz wanna be pedantic, then do the job properly. The b in 'beidh' should be aspirated, i.e. it should be 'bheidh'.

In any case what is there to mourn about no longer having bye elections to replace old bags like Iris?

hoboroad said...

Naomi Long wins East Belfast for Alliance.

pagasp said...

Robinson's a Goner, to the the alliance! EH!

Sitting hear in Doire with a wee chopper flying around the top of the gaffe, sounds like a 50cc moped driving around the sky, bit strange.

No count here till the marra by the look of things.

pagasp said...

Talk on the Beeb of Nationalists'
voting Paisley, whatever next!

Looks like they forgot to read your
last post H-man!

hoboroad said...