General Election 2017: SF confident in Mid Ulster

Cookstown town centre
Cookstown town centre

Ever since the late Martin McGuinness unseated the DUP’s Rev William McCrea in the 1990s, Mid Ulster has remained a solid nationalist/republican seat.

And given Sinn Fein’s resounding success in the constituency at the recent Assembly election– when it easily secured three of the five available seats – that trend shows no sign of changing any time soon.

The republican party will be extremely confident that incumbent Francie Molloy can reclaim the constituency his party has held for two decades.

Party veteran Mr Molloy has been the sitting MP since 2013, when Mr McGuinness resigned the seat.

While the 2015 Westminster election marked a drop of 3.3% in the Sinn Fein vote here, the party still managed to secure almost half of all votes cast.

Coming a distant second at the last Westminster poll was UUP candidate Sandra Overend, who lost her Assembly seat in the March election.

She is being replaced this time out by surprise candidate Mark Glasgow, a young political representative who was first elected to Mid Ulster Council in 2014.

The newcomer will be up against Keith Buchanan, who holds the DUP’s sole Assembly seat in the constituency.

Mid Ulster was once a stronghold for the DUP, held by Rev William McCrea from 1983 until he was ousted by Martin McGuinness in 1997.

Rev McCrea’s son, Ian, finished third in the race back in 2015.

Mr Buchanan will be hoping to improve upon that result.

SDLP is once again fielding Malachy Quinn as its candidate.

The Mid Ulster councillor polled just over 5,000 votes in 2015 and will likely have little impact on Sinn Fein’s unshakeable position.

Candidates for 2017:

• Keith Buchanan, DUP

• Mark Glasgow, UUP

• Francie Molloy, Sinn Fein

• Malachy Quinn, SDLP

• Fay Watson, Alliance

2015 general election:

Francie Molloy (SF): 19,935 (48.7%)

S Overend (UUP): 6,318 (15.4%)

I McCrea (DUP): 5,465 (13.4%)

M Quinn (SDLP): 5,055 (12.4%)

GFerguson (TUV): 1,892 (4.6%)

A Day (UKIP): 863 (2.1%)

E Bullick (Alliance): 778 (1.9%)

H Scullion (WP): 496 (1.2%)

Lucille Nicholson (Cons.): 120 (0.3%)

Electorate: 67,832

Turnout: 41,317 (60.9%)

Combined unionist vote: 35.8%

2010 general election:

Martin McGuinness (SF): 21,239 (52%)

I McCrea (DUP): 5,876 (14.4%)

Tony Quinn (SDLP): 5,826 (14.3%)

Sandra Overend (UCUNF): 4,509 (11%)

Walter Millar (TUV): 2,995 (7.3%)

Ian Butler (Alliance): 397 (1%)

Electorate: 64,594

Turnout: 41,139 (63.7%)

Combined unionist vote: 32.7%