Mid Ulster By election 2013

Mid Ulster By election

Caused by the resignation of Martin McGuinness, the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. McGuinness announced his intention to resign in summer 2012 in order to put an end to his dual role as an MP and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (although in line with Sinn Fein policy he had never actually taken his seat at Westminster). He finally submitted his resignation in December 2012 and was appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead on the 2nd January 2013, vacating his seat. The by-election will be held on the 7th March 2013.

There was early speculation about the DUP and UUP supporting a joint-candidate. In the event both parties endorsed the candidacy of Nigel Lutton, as a unionist unity candidate. This agreement lead to two UUP MLAs, John McCallister and Basil McCrea, resigning from the party in protest. Lutton is a son of an RUC reservist murdered in 1979. DUP MP David Simpson had previously used Parliamentary privilege to accuse the Sinn Fein candidate Francie Molloy of being a suspect in the murder, accusations that have been strongly denied by Molloy. Both Nigel Lutton and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt denied there was any connection between Lutton`s candidacy and the accusations against Molloy.

This will be the fifth by-election in Mid Ulster since the second world war, the most in any single seat.

Francie Molloy (Sinn Fein) Born 1950, County Tyrone. Dungannon councillor 1985-1989 and since 1993. Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Mid-Ulster since 1998. In 2007 MP David Simpson used Parliamentary privilege to accuse Molloy of being a suspect in the 1979 murder of Eric Lutton. Molloy refutes the allegations completely.
Nigel Lutton (Independent) Son of Eric Lutton, an RUC reservist murdered in 1979. Undertaker
Patsy McGlone (SDLP) Cookstown councillor 1993-2009. Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Mid-Ulster since 2003. Deputy leader of the SDLP 2010-2011. Contested SDLP leadership election 2011.
Eric Bullick (Alliance) Born County Tyrone. Educated at Lancaster University. College governor and former headteacher.
Comments - 18 Responses on “Mid Ulster by election”
  1. As a general aside, the accusations against Francie Molloy were made under Parliamentary privilege, so we can report the comments in a fair and accurate way under qualified privilege without without it being libel.

    Going further than that would risk defaming him, so please don’t do it on my website.

  2. Thanks, Anthony!

    My summary from the old site (don’t worry, I won’t be doing this on every seat!)

    This is sure to be an easy Sinn Fein hold. We already know a bit about how single unionist candidates poll – they tend to do slightly worse than the combined votes of unionists in the previous election. But, as this looks to be Nesbitt’s vision for the future, it’s interesting enough to see how it pans out.

    Last time out, the combined unionist vote was 32.7%. Any increase would be a big success; 30% would still be a strong vote. Much below 30% would highlight the shortcomings of this strategy.

    It’ll be interesting to see whether a single unionist who clearly won’t win moves nationalist voters to vote SF instead of SDLP.

    Also, can Alliance take more former UUP voters? This isn’t a good area for that, but if some voters are as unhappy with their new strategy as McCallister and McCrea, they might consider switching their vote.

    So – a good result for SF will be staying above 50%. Good for Lutton will be 30% or better. Good for the SDLP will be holding their vote share. Good for Alliance will be an increase – given they start so far back, 1.5% would be a sign of progress.

  3. “We already know a bit about how single unionist candidates poll – they tend to do slightly worse than the combined votes of unionists in the previous election. I’ve never understood why that is the case.”

    The last example of a single unionist candidate was Rodney Connor in Fermanagh and South Tyrone in 2010.

    He got 45.5% of the vote compared with 47% for DUP + UUP in 2005. This 1.5% reduction could be due to declining Protestant share of the population!

    Interestingly nearly half of the SDLP’s vote went to SF. But F & ST is a seat where the 2 communities are evenly divided and the single unionist candidate threatened to unseat a nationalist. SF unlikely to lose Mid-Ulster, so I would expect a smaller but significant share to move from SDLP to SF, The allegations against Francis Molloy may put SDLP voters tactically coting for him.

    The 2 communities are more segregated west of Bann, hence the low share of the Alliance vote. I wouldn’t expect their vote to remain low.

  4. The 2 communities are more segregated west of Bann, hence the low share of the Alliance vote. I would expect their vote to remain low.

  5. The previous occasion where something similar happened was Belfast South. In 2001, the DUP didn’t stand, as they believed that a split unionist vote might lead to an SDLP gain.

    The UUP took 44.8%, and a PUP candidate took 2.9%. Come 2005, the DUP did stand, and the combined unionist vote rose to 51.1%. One which can’t be explained by the declining Protestant share of the population.

  6. ( D’Oh – thanks Anthony !! I didn’t realise I could steer to the relevant By-elect from the Index, I saw Eastleigh on RHS of main page and looked no further. ! ) Ignore the stuff in {}.
    {I was hoping to post on Mid Ulster but I have been thwarted by the update! (Old site no posting allowed, new site – not there yet – and there is a by-election tomorrow for Mid Ulster!). My comment would have been:- }

    Electorate for Mid-Ulster, 67,014. Summing the 76 ballot boxes electorates. Info from here:-
    http://www.eoni.org.uk/mid_ulster_polling_station_scheme_2013-3.pdf (This comment aimed at Andy JS probably.)

  7. Thanks for that information. The electorate is up from 64,594 in 2010 – this is unlikely to benefit the unionists.

  8. Mid Ulster Result:-
    Alliance Eric Bullick (Alliance) 487
    Ind Nigel Lutton (Jnt DUP UUP TUV) 12,781
    SDLP Patsy McGlone (SDLP) 6,478
    Sinn Féin Francie Molloy (Sinn Féin) 17,463

  9. Correction to the post above:-

    Fancess Molloy (SF) 17,462

    From the EONI web site the electorate count is 67,192.
    Turn-out 55.7%. Majority 4,681.


  10. Very good unionist performance given the religious demographics.

  11. If only 5,000 Sinn Fein voters had defected to the SDLP

  12. Very funny quote from the Alliance candidate on BBCi:

    “The Alliance candidate, teacher Eric Bullick, said he had increased his party’s share of the vote by 23% since the last general election, polling 487 votes – up from 398 votes three years ago.”

    If that isn’t an example of fiddling the figures, I don’t know what is. To try and pass off the result as a 23% increase in Alliance vote share is just unbelievable.

    Its an increase of 23% compared to the last isolated Alliance vote in the constituency, but the actual vote share is barely 1%-an increase of an almost unmeasurable amount.

  13. Strong unionist vote, likely to mean more joint candidates in future. Good SDLP vote, particularly given the joint unionist (presumably because the unionist had no chance of winning).

    Disappointing result for SF. No threat at all to them here – but if repeated across Northern Ireland, they’d lose a few Assembly seats.

    No real change for Alliance, not a problem in an area which is so weak for them, but negligible progress (despite Bullick’s claims).

  14. If I’d been him I’d have kept a dignified silence!

  15. The claim is rather meaningless, its not incorrect or misleading.

  16. I’d argue that it is misleading, as when talking about a 23% increase, with regard to elections, people would expect an increas from 1% to 24%, not the mathematically correct 1% to 1.23%.

  17. Maybe he wasn’t expecting to be taken seriously with such a claim. Perhaps it was meant as a joke?

    Someone has put the declaration and Mr Molloy’s acceptance speech on YouTube:


  18. I’m glad you posted the U-Tube link for the declaration. I heard it on R5 (aout 1.20 am) and made the mistake of making a 2 into a three (the oirish would be tree ). Which is obvious from my 1.23 am post above. Must tune in my ears for ‘NI speak’ next time.

    ( mea culpa and no diss to the Irish) 🙂

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