Thursday, August 03, 2006

SDLP is irrelevant - report

Anton McCabe:

An appendix to the report gives a detailed analysis of the party’s vote in last year’s local elections.

It said there had been an above-average swing from the SDLP to Sinn Féin in 43 of the North’s 101 district council electoral areas.

Five of these areas are in North Antrim, with swings to Sinn Féin ranging from 29 per cent in both Ballycastle town and the Glens areas, to five per cent in Ballymena North.

The SDLP currently holds an assembly seat in North Antrim but the constituency is to lose one of its two nationalist quotas given the boundary changes to be implemented before the next assembly election.

In East Derry, there were swings of 21 per cent in Limavady town and 19 per cent in Bellarena.

The SDLP only increased its vote in ten of the electoral areas.

The appendix also detailed how the areas where the SDLP did worst were mostly core nationalist areas in which the combined nationalist vote exceeded 50 per cent.

Former SDLP deputy chairman Eddie Espie said the report showed the party was in terminal decline.

“In 1969, the main opposition party in the North was the Nationalist Party,” Mr Espie said.

“Two years later, it was gone. A precedent was set back then, proving when the critical mass of electoral support drifts away from a party and reaches a certain point, the end becomes unstoppable.”

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