Election 2017: West Tyrone – anger on the doors, but who will pay?

Strabane town centre, west Co Tyrone
Strabane town centre, west Co Tyrone

According to a number of candidates, there is much anger on the doors in West Tyrone at the necessity of creating another Assembly so soon after the last – and perceptions of major waste of public money at Stormont.

And the obvious question is which party is most likely to lose a seat as a result, with the drop from six to five available positions.

Sinn Fein accounted for 42.1% of first preference votes last year, with the DUP taking 22%, the UUP 11.4% and the SDLP 11%.

Both Sinn Fein and the DUP are fielding one less candidate than last year in order to try and protect their previous seats – down to three and one candidates, respectively.

While there is reportedly widespread anger about RHI or other perceived excesses at Stormont, the DUP says it is seldom being mentioned.

NHS waiting lists and facilities are also major issues for voters, as well as the long promised A5 dual carriageway from Londonderry to Aughnacloy with bedroom tax and welfare reforms also being mentioned. Unionists seem unconcerned by Brexit.

Some unionists see Sinn Fein as most vulnerable to the drop in seats, with the party’s Declan McAleer elected with least votes in the constituency in 2016 – 1.8% less than the next MLA. However possible changes in unionist-nationalist voter turnout patterns could be significant.

TUV are entering the fray here this year in the shape of former DUP councillor Charlie Chittick, which could further disrupt previous voting trends for the DUP and UUP.

Mr Chittick stressed there are a significant number of first time voters from whom he hopes to profit.

2017 candidates:

• Michaela Boyle (Sinn Fein)

• Barry Brown (Citizens Independent Social Thought Alliance)

• Thomas Buchanan (DUP)

• Charlie Chittick (TUV)

• Alicia Clarke (UUP)

• Stephen Donnelly (Alliance)

• Corey French (Independent)

• Roger Lomas (Cons)

• Declan McAleer (Sinn Fein)

• Sorcha McAnespy (Independent)

• Ciaran McClean (Greens)

• Daniel McCrossan (SDLP)

• Barry McElduff (Sinn Fein)

• Roisin McMackin(Independent)

• Susan-Anne White (Independent)

2016 results:

• Thomas Buchanan (DUP) 4,650 (12.0%)

• Barry McElduff (Sinn Féin) 4,568 (11.8%)

• Michaela Boyle (Sinn Féin) 4,460 (11.5%)

• Ross Hussey (UUP) 4,441 (11.4%)

• Daniel McCrossan (SDLP) 4,287 (11.0%)

• Allan Bresland (DUP) 3,884 (10.0%)

• Grace McDermott (Sinn Féin) 3,711 (9.6%)

• Declan McAleer (Sinn Féin) 3,565 (9.2%)

• Josephine Deehan (Independent) 1,778 (4.6%)

• Sorcha McAnespy (Independent) 828 (2.1%)

• Patsy Kelly (Independent) 661 (1.7%)

• Barry Brown (CISTA) 547 (1.4%)

• Stephen Donnelly (Alliance) 494 (1.3%)

• Ciaran McClean (Green) 458 (1.2%)

• Laura McAnea (Animal Welfare) 224 (0.6%)

• Corey French (Independent) 124 (0.3%)

• Susan-Anne White (Independent) 85 (0.2%)

• Roger Lomas (Conservative) 44 (0.1%)

Electorate: 65,694

Votes cast: 39,325 (59.9%);