Monday, 13 June 2011

Shock: Sinn Fein hold West Belfast

Firstly I’d like to apologise for the lateness of this post, I’ve had a very hectic weekend, this week’s by-elections will follow later in the day.

West Belfast went to the polls on Thursday, and in no real surprise, the seat was held by Sinn Fein.

West Belfast is the most Catholic, and the poorest constituency, it is also relatively young so Sinn Fein’s victory was expected. Indeed Sinn Fein has turned this seat into a true stronghold, winning every election here since 1997 and winning 5/6 MLAs in the last two Northern Irish Assembly elections.

The by-election arose last December due to the resignation of Gerry Adams so he could run for a seat in this year’s Irish Parliamentary election (Irish electoral law banned him from holding a seat at Westminster), which he won.

Sinn Fein’s candidate was Paul Maskey, a brother of a MLA in the constituency, the result is below:





Paul Maskey

Sinn Fein



Alex Attwood




Gerry Carroll




Brian Kingston




Bill Manwaring




Aaron McIntyre




A fairly unsurprising result as Maskey manages onto a fairly similar margin of victory to Adams. The turnout was 37%, not exactly stunning. Turnout is also said to have been particularly low in the impoverished Protestant estates of the Shankill. I guess many of those voters figured it wasn’t worth turning up. If true this certainly explains the loss of votes in the Unionist parties.

The big surprise is Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit getting almost 8%. PBP is a far-left group and Carroll’s vote may represent a vote against Westminster and Stormont cuts, if so it may represent an objection against Sinn Fein’s de facto agreement with those cuts. PBP is, officially at least, cross-community. In reality I suspect almost all of its votes come from the Catholic side but, in any case, it represents a decent vote for a cross-community party in what is still one of Northern Ireland’s most segregated areas.

1 comment:

  1. Paul Maskey IS an MLA for the constituency, his brother Alex is MLA for South Belfast.