Sinn Féin have announced a strong team to contest the May 2019 council election for the Slieve Croob District Electoral Area.
Sitting councillors Róisín Howell and John Rice will be joined by Drumaness woman Cathy Mason to contest the Slieve Croob DEA area Council election.
Speaking at the announcement today in Dundrum MP Chris Hazzard said: “People of South Down require strong representation on the ground, Sinn Féin have a team of candidates across South Down ready to deliver for local communities. I am delighted to be here today in Dundrum with three local candidates ready to stand up for their communities.
South Down MLA Emma Rogan added: “ Sinn Féin in South Down is growing from strength to strength, I very much welcome the news that our team is in place working on the ground.
“I look forward to working with Róisin, John and Cathy in the months ahead. The council elections provide us with an opportunity to put outour message to the public and to promote and improve upon our strong record of representation and delivery.”
In the 2014 election, Sinn Féin fielded two candidates (Stephen Burns and Pól Ó Gribbin who have both been replaced by currect Councillors Roisin Howell and John Rice.)
UKIP is hardly likely to run a candidate this time round and NI21 is a defunct party.
A shock result last time round was the UUP’s Dessie Patterson being squeezed out by Independent aAtrick Clarke who subsequently faced legal challenges in court through probity issues and subsequently dropped out of his place as Councillor.
Garth Craig polled well for the DUP with 1021 first Preference votes but it was Stephen Burns who topped the poll with 1303.
The SDLP fielded three candidates, Mark Murnin, Audrey Byrne and Shane King, and only Murnin succeeded in winning one seat in the chamber. Mark Murnin has been council chairman for the past year and has a strong profile so should be a solid contender for being returned, but with Sinn Féin’s strategy of announcing an extra candidate, it makes the position of SDLP candidates all the more precarious. Murnin was returned on the sixth count last time round with Sinn Féin second candidate Ó Gribbin leaving a dramatic tussle for the last five council seats to a shoot between Independent Patrick Clarke and the UUP’s Dessie Patterson. Clarke won by 105 votes in the final tally.
After five years of council business, only Craig (DUP) and Murnin (SDLP) were left standing with two Sinn Féin councillors being replaced and one Independent being removed.
The turnout for the vote in Slieve Croob was only 50.44 %. With Brexit looming it is not likely to translate to the Council election regardless what happens in March in Brussels.
It remains to be seen if the SDLP will run three candidates again as they did in the 2014 election. Last time round there was a suggestion they should have fielded two candidates as Shane King and Audrey Bryne were struggling on the fourth and fifth counts respectively to survive… and both didn’t.
This Slieve Croob DEA election could possibly see a greater polarisation of the vote with the DUP and Sinn Féin grabbing a bigger slice with the other parties such as the UUP and SDLP struggling in the middle. But the picture is very fluid at ground level with less than six months to go to the big day.