10 Aug 2022

2019 Council Elections: A look at the Waterside District Electoral Area

Waterside DEA MAP

In terms of population the Waterside District Electoral Area (DEA) is the largest not only of the five DEA’s within the city’s boundaries but across the Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) area.

Statistics from the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency (NISRA) puts the population within the Waterside DEA at 26,065.

Under 16s account for approximately 21% of the population in the area in comparison with 21% in the DCSDC area and 22% across Northern Ireland.

Those aged between 25-44 make up around 29% of the DEA’s population and at the older end of the spectrum those aged 65 and over account for 15% of the population compared with 12% in the Council area and 15% across Northern Ireland.

There are almost 11,000 households in the Waterside DEA and according to the latest figures available-the 2011 Census-the largest category of households is that of one person dwellings.

There were around 3,510 such households at the last Census accounting for 32% of all households in the DEA and 870 or 8% of households containing five or more people.

And, according to the data in the last Census, 63% of residents in the Waterside DEA were economically active, a rate which is slightly higher than the average in the DCSDC area (60%) and marginally lower than the Northern Ireland wide figure of 67%.

Of those who are in jobs in the Waterside DEA 34% are in managerial, professional or technical positions, a figure just above the Council average (32%) and the equivalent of the Northern Ireland average.

However, the Waterside DEA employment figures show that fewer than 10% have a skilled trade as an occupation in comparison with 13% across the local authority area and 14% in Northern Ireland as a whole.

There are seven seats on offer in this DEA on May 2 with ten candidates in the running to claim them.

This number of candidates represents a substantial reduction from the last local election in 2014 when 15 runners contested the poll in the Waterside area.

This time the candidates are: Darren Guy (UUP), Christopher Jackson (Sinn Fein), Hilary McClintock (DUP), Philip McKinney (Alliance Party), Sharon McLaughlin (Sinn Fein), Sinead McLaughlin (SDLP), Maeve O'Neill (People Before Profit Alliance), David Ramsey (DUP), Martin Reilly (SDLP) and Drew Thompson (DUP).

Six of these candidates are outgoing councillors: These are Christopher Jackson (SF), Hilary McClintock (DUP), Sinead McLaughlin (SDLP), David Ramsey (DUP), Martin Reilly (SDLP) and Drew Thompson (DUP).

At the last Council election in 2014, the eligible electorate in Waterside was 18,549. The Turnout was however below fifty per cent at 48.51%. A total of 8,998 votes cast, but 166 of those votes were spoiled so the actual amount of valid votes was 8,832. The quota to achieve election was then set at 1,105.

The unusually large amount of candidates five years ago meant that the wider spread of votes saw no one elected on the first count.

First to be elected was the SDLP's Gerard Diver on the second count with 1,121 votes (12.20%).

Next in was the UUP's Mary Hamilton on the fifth count on 1,166 or 11.82% of the vote.

Sinn Fein's Christopher Jackson got across the line on the tenth count with 12.01% of the vote on 1,671 ballots. He was followed at this stage by Martin Reilly from the SDLP on 1,106 votes (10%).

On the eleventh count, the DUP's David Ramsey got home with 1,088 votes (6.25%) and his fellow DUP representative Hilary McClintock also got home at this stage with 1,017 votes (9.16%). Last to be elected was the third DUP Councillor Drew Thompson who came in below the quota on 767 votes or 6.86%.

The fallers in the Waterside electoral in 2014 were Julia Kee (UUP) who was eliminated on the tenth count on 753 votes (5.26%), Bridget Meehan (SF) on the ninth count with 679 (7.41%), Niree McMorris (DUP) at the eighth count on 594 or 5.96% of the vote.

UKIP's Kyle Thompson was eliminated at count six on 517 votes (3.25%). The Progressive Unionist Party's Nigel Gardiner was counted out at the fourth stage on 288 votes (3.10%) and the Alliance Party's Asta Kereviciene fell at the third count on 246 votes (2.73%).

David Malcolm, another UKIP candidate went out on the second count on 225 (2.54%). Independent candidate Michael Carlin was eliminated on the first count with 113 votes (1.28%).

The absence in the Waterside this time of UKIP, PUP or Independent candidates has pared the field back substantially and has lined up another straightforward fight between the mainstream nationalist and unionist parties.

Immediately noticeable here is that the DUP has reduced its candidate list to three this time from an overly optimistic four in 2014.

It was perhaps only strong vote management that averted a potential disaster for them five years ago when Drew Thompson was just 32 votes ahead of the UUP's Julia Kee when he finally crossed the electoral line.

The fourth DUP candidate in 2014, Niree McMorris finished on a strong 594 votes and obviously detracted from Drew Thompson's tally. A few 'loose' transfers could have seen Mr Thompson not re-enter the Guildhall as councillor.

The UUP have opted to field a single candidate this time. The retirement of long time party stalwart Mary Hamilton sees Darren Guy step into the political arena for the first time.

The party has clearly opted to draw on it's local political heritage with this candidate as Mr Guy is the son of the late Jim Guy who was twice mayor of the city (1987 and 1994) and drew strong respect from across the political spectrum in his lifetime both as a UUP representative and later as an Independent Unionist.

Still, the UUP have opted for caution in the hope that the traditional vote for Mrs Hamilton will come over to a new candidate without any interference from a UUP running mate.

The selection of SDLP candidates Martin Reilly and Sinead McLaughlin echoes the pattern of 2014 when the party also ran two candidates. Mr Reilly is the leader of the SDLP on Council and as a former Mayor has a strong profile and a reputation as an understated but effective representative.

Ms McLaughlin, whilst also well known as a former Chief Executive of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, is as yet untested in an electoral contest because she was co-opted onto Council as late as November last year to replace Tina Gardiner when she quit the political arena.

However, a pared back list of runners and a traditionally strong SDLP ballot in this area should see both nationalist candidates over the line.

When he was elected on the tenth count in 2014, Sinn Fein's Christopher Jackson had accumulated the highest amount of votes of all candidates in the Waterside DEA on 1,671. His running mate Bridget Meehan also achieved well over half the final quota on 679. Based on those figures Sinn Fein in this area clearly have substantial transfer prowess. But, it remains to be seen if they can eat into the SDLP vote in a district where the nationalist party traditionally benefits from transfers from moderate unionism.

The final runners, Maeve O'Neill of People Before Profit Alliance and Philip McKinney of the Alliance Party may register fairly healthy personal votes and benefit briefly from a few transfers but will not survive beyond the third or fourth counts.

Overall, this DEA is highly likely to be a case of as you were with the DUP retaining three seats, the SDLP retaining two and one each for Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionist Party.

CAPTION: A map of the Waterside District Electoral Area.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.