PEB Review: Sinn Fein vs. SDLP

I’ll be taking a look at all the party election broadcasts (PEB) over the next while now that they are all by and large in the public domain.

First up are the two main nationalist parties; Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

In 2010 the SDLP are looking to bounce back from a steady decline in recent years, which has seen them overtaken by Sinn Fein as the largest nationalist party, pushing them to the bottom of ‘the big four’ political parties.

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Divide and conquer by Sinn Fein?

Sinn Fein’s decision to stand Alex Maskey down in South Belfast has massively stepped up the pressure on the SDLP to do the same in Fermanagh South Tyrone.

They will in all likelihood refuse to do so however, Fearghal McKinney is the new glossy poster boy, but they are firmly backed into the corner.

Arguably the situation is win/win for Sinn Fein. The move will directly appeal to nationalist voters in FST over the heads of the SDLP.  If, as expected the SDLP will refuse to stand aside, they will look stubborn while Sinn Fein can argue they have acted in the greater interest of nationalism.

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Sixth late additon to the West Tyrone race

Ciaran McClean has become a sixth late addition to the West Tyrone general election race after submitting nomination papers today.

The 43-year-old Beragh native will stand as an independent candidate campaigning against the proliferation of quarries in the area. The mental health worker has been involved in campaigns to stop quarrying in the Altamuskin, Cavanacaw and Mullaslin areas around mid Tyrone.

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Strong words but short memory

Ógra Shinn Féin’s vitriolic attack today on unionist unity candidate for Fermanagh South Tyrone Rodney Connor revealed a three-month sea change of opinion from Sinn Féin.

Barry McColgan of Dermot Crowley Ógra Shinn Féin opens the latest blog post with the following.

“In the upcoming Westminster General Election in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, a single neo liberal, pro imperialist, sectarian, Tory bigot will stand against a progressive, inclusive, Republican Candidate.”

Mr Connor stepped down from his role as Chief Executive of Fermanagh District Council recently after signalling his intention to retire in January. However the Castlederg native has been launched into the middle of a political maelstrom by accepting the nomination as a single Unionist candidate to oust sitting MP Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew.

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Swings and Roundabouts in West Tyrone

How many of you have met a friendly local councillor/ politician in the last few days?

Charming people they are, knocking on your door just to make sure to make you aware that you still have a vote. Sinn Fein were doing the rounds yesterday down this way with Pat Doherty and co knocking doors, asking people if they were on the register etc etc, for the West Tyrone campaign.

Caught a couple of them off guard when I opened the door to them twice at two different houses at either end of the street in the space of 10 minutes. It was the first time I’d ever spoke to either, but anyway… SF is shifting through the gears and will move it up again when Adams comes to Omagh to address a public meeting in the Strule Art’s Centre this Friday (April 16).

Campaign is in full swing, UUP and SF both were quick off the mark with the posters going up. Doherty is sure to win, but SDLP will close the gap to the closest since Joe Byrne last stood in ’97. In that year their share of the vote was 32%, Brid Rodgers let it slip in ’01 and Kieran Deeny’s Omagh hospital campaign completely derailed the SDLP in ’05, eating largely into the SDLP’s base, taking 27.4% in all.

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