Local Election 2019

Constituency Notebook - Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

The SDLP are hoping to maintain their presence in Downpatrick. Picture by Bill Smyth

IN the last election in Newry, Mourne and Down power on the council remained comfortably with Sinn Féin and SDLP - evenly split, returning 14 councillors each.

So fast forward to 2019 and what will be the fate of the two parties this time round? Will the SDLP struggle to repeat its 2014 performance at the ballot box and can Sinn Féin outshine its nationalist rivals?

A total of 71 candidates are chasing 41 seats across seven wards in this sprawling district, which has a population of around 177,000 people.

There are 32 councillors hoping for re-election with several facing the ballot box for the first time after being co-opted onto the council.

Stretching from Saintfield to Crossmaglen, with the Mourne Mountains in between, the district also covers south Armagh and most of Co Down.

In the 2014 election, the two unionist parties were squeezed with the Ulster Unionists and the DUP taking just seven of the 41 available seats across Crotlieve, Downpatrick, Newry, Rowallane, Slieve Gullion, Slieve Croob and the Mournes,

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The DUP pipped the UUP by winning one more seat - helped by a good performance in the mainly unionist Rowallane ward - a fascinating battleground with candidates of all political hues and none vying for five available seats.

The electorate in Newry Mourne Down also elected three independent candidates last time round, while Alliance took two seats and Ukip one.

This particular council is a good hunting ground for nationalist politicians where Sinn Féin will be hoping recent success at Westminster and the Assembly will be mirrored at local government level.

In the 2017 Westminster election, a strong 11 per cent swing towards Sinn Féin was recorded as long-standing MP Margaret Ritchie was ousted by Chris Hazzard.

And the party appears to be aiming higher by running four more candidates than they did in 2014, while the SDLP are running three less.

One particular ward of interest is Newry where Sinn Féin are pushing further by running four candidates, hoping to return long-standing councillor Charlie Casey, first elected 18 years ago, Liz Kimmins and Valerie Harte and new face on the ballot paper, Sarah Jane McAllister.

SDLP politician Gary Stokes, a councillor since 2005, is running again in Newry alongside Michael Savage, who was co-opted onto the council in 2017.

But it will be the seat being vacated by veteran politician Davy Hyland that will prove interesting.

Mr Hyland, a former councillor and MLA, left Sinn Féin over its support for the PSNI and ran as an independent. But after announcing he is standing down from political life, much attention will be focused on where his vote will go.

In Downpatrick, the SDLP secured their best result in Northern Ireland in 2014, and the party are aiming to repeat that success. Dermot Curran and Gareth Sharvin are seeking re-election and are joined by John Trainor, who replaced Colin McGrath after he was elected MLA.

In Slieve Croob, there will be a battle for Alliance to retain their seat, won in 2014 by Patrick Clarke, who resigned from the party.

He was replaced by Andrew McMurray, but he is now contesting the Mournes electoral area, leaving Gregory Bain with the challenge of holding the Alliance seat in Slieve Croob.

Much interest will also centre on two former MLAs - Karen McKevitt (SDLP) and Harold McKee (UUP) - who are returning to front-line politics after losing the assembly seats, while new party Aontú are running three candidates across the council.

Could their presence affect where the final seats are decided?

But much focus will be on whether Sinn Féin can secure additional seats, perhaps at the expense of the SDLP, to make significant advances in becoming the dominant party in Newry Mourne and Down.


Party Share 2014

SF 37.1%

SDLP 30.4%

UUP 12.0%

DUP 7.0%

Ind 5.7%

UKIP 3.9%

Alliance 2.4%

Other 1.%



Crotlieve (six seats)

Jim Boylan (Ind)

Michael Carr (SDLP)

Mark Gibbons (Ind)

Joshua Lowry (UUP)

Declan McAteer (SDLP)

Wilma McCullough (DUP)

Lorcán McGreevy (All)

Karen McKevitt (SDLP)

Oksana McMahon (SF)

Gerry O'Hare (SF)

Mickey Ruane (SF)

Jarlath Tinnelly (Ind)

Mary Tinnelly (SF)


Downpatrick (five seats)

Alex Burgess (UUP)

Dermot Curran (SDLP)

Macartán Dugney (Aontú)

Cadogan Enright (Ind)

Oonagh Hanlon (SF)

Jamie Kennedy (Green)

Tiernan Laird (All)

Jordan Madden (SF)

James Savage (DUP)

Gareth Sharvin (SDLP)

John Trainor (SDLP)


Newry (six seats)

Charlie Casey (SF)

Valerie Harte (SF)

Liz Kimmins (SF)

Gavin Malone (Ind)

Sarah Jane McAllister (SF)

Ricky McGaffin (UUP)

Michael Savage (SDLP)

Gary Stokes (SDLP)

Helena Young (All)


Rowallane (five seats)

Terry Andrews (SDLP)

Patrick Brown (All)

Robert Burgess (UUP)

Emma Cairns (Green)

Marianne Cleary (SF)

Harry Harvey (DUP)

Walter Lyons (UUP)

Liam Mulhern (Aontú)

Martyn Todd (Ind)

William Walker (DUP)


Slieve Croob (five seats)

Gregory Bain (All)

Hugh Gallagher (SDLP)

Maynard Hanna (DUP)

Tracy Harkin (Aontú)

Roisin Howell (SF)

Alan Lewis (UUP)

Cathy Mason (SF)

Mark Murnin (SDLP)

John Rice (SF)


Slieve Gullion (seven seats)

Pete Byrne (SDLP)

Balázs Gazdag (All)

Terry Hearty (SF)

Linda Henry (DUP)

Mickey Larkin (SF)

Kate Loughran (SDLP)

Oonagh Magennis (SF)

Roisin Mulgrew (SF)

Barra Ó'Muiri (SF)

David Taylor (UUP)


The Mournes (seven seats)

Willie Clarke (SF)

Laura Devlin (SDLP)

Sean Doran (SF)

Glyn Hanna (DUP)

Leeanne McEvoy (SF)

Harold McKee (UUP)

Andrew McMurray (All)

Brian Quinn (SDLP)

Henry Reilly (Ind)

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