Fearghal McKinney MLA

Congratulations to Fearghal McKinney, who becomes a MLA tomorrow.
Elected on a clear majority over Claire Hanna (commiserations to a very able candidate).
image

The voting 113 to 69 will surprise many.I honestly thought Fearghal would win.But the margin surprised me. The pattern seemed to be that most people had made up their minds…came in voted and went home. By the way, I spent the evening in the company of the charming Ms Martina Purdy of BBC and Ms Sarah Campbell of UTV. I am now a bona fide Media Person.

Perhaps the interesting thing about the voting figures is that it shows people voted beyond the Branch, Gender, Age, Philosophy “boxes”.
And that makes it a good result for SDLP. A winning margin of say five votes would have been a bad result.

For Fearghal …clearly a good night. There was a feeling that if he lost tonight it would be the end of a career. He is in his mid 50s and I think unlikely to have been selected in 2016. That in itself was a small factor.
Claire…clearly disappointed but her time will come again. She is due to have a baby before Christmas. The Timing just wasnt right. Fearghal now has three years ahead as a public representative. Claire remains a Belfast City Councillor.

So a good night for SDLP which of course means its a bad night for Slugger O’Toole.
Only yesterday one of their new columnists was stating that Claire had the edge and that only a late surge could win it for Fearghal. The figures show that is extremely unlikely. …so were David McCann and Mick Fealty being “spun” yesterday. Or were they perhaps “spinning”.
For Shame.
And For Shame Alan in Belfast who tweeted a pic of Fearghal in front of a UUP logo eralier this week. I suggested it might seem inappropriate and was told he would get a better one if he wanted one.
And guess what…that pic appears on Slugger tonight.

I never expect much from Slugger…but Alan youre better than that. Feel free to use the pic I took tonight.

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30 Responses to Fearghal McKinney MLA

  1. factual says:

    Who is the woman in the black dress holding the earphones in her hand or are you not allowed to say?

  2. Mark says:

    Fitz , Serious question and perhaps you could answer it for me ? having reading your posts on SOT for yrs and listened to how you had a change of heart and decided to start voting for SDLP again . You you told readers that you had voted SF up unitil then . Then you announced that you had in fact joined the party . It was only recently that I heard you say that you were no longer a member of the SDLP . Was threre any particular reason for you having a change of heart and leaving ….as you seemed so enthusiast and positive when you joined up initially ?

    Genuine question Fitz ! ( i know our last exchange wasn’t that friendly ) i’m hoping that won’t be a problem ?

    • Certainly.
      1973-1982ish….I was a member of SDLP in West Belfast and very briefly Dungannon.
      1982 I got married No active politics but with my wife voted SDLP.
      1993 Stopped voting SDLP and started voting SF for mostly personal reasons and then I suppose by choice. My wife has always voted SDLP and in a strange way it reflected our general pan-nationalism.

      2009 Euros. I voted Alban Magennis SDLP partly because I like him and I thought SF was a busted fluash.
      2010 I began more intensive blogging on Slugger. I had been on American sites vfor years. Almost by default I found myself defending the SDLP position.
      From late 2010, I began associating more openly with SDLP people and a few got to know I was FitzjamesHorse from Slugger and got a lot of positive feedback from them that they liked what they reading.
      I resisted joining SDLP before the 2011 Assembly Election. but that increased period of activity, hustings etc brought me into contact with a wider circle of SDLP people.
      I found the 2011 Election depressing and started this Blog in August 2011. At the time I did not intend joining SDLP but did actually join within a few weeks.
      The exact dates are archived in August September 2011.

      Blogging and Party membership…The dynamic changes.
      People have been kind enough to say that this blog is independently minded while supporting SDLP.
      I actually found the period Sept 2011-say April 2012 quite difficult. Being a blogger and attending party meetings is a potential conflict of interest…in fairness I never really had any. but I sensed some discomfort with some people that they had apprehension about a blogger in the room.
      It also changes the dynamic …I enjoy the challenge of ANALYSING EVENTS…educated guesswork but actually KNOWING something is different.
      For example I enjoy pitting any analysis against any analysis by any other blogger. As a general rule I know what Im talking about …but knowing something is different.
      At my own request around April 2012, I discovered I didnt have to be a BRANCH member. And became a SDLP member outside the BRANCH structure. I dont attend branch meetings but do attemd conferences seminars
      Basically I did not renew membership in 2013, mostly out of laziness and kept procrastinating but obviously I also thought that there were few material benefits to joining the party as I dont have a right to be a delegate or nominate anyone for party or electoral office.
      And also…I must emphasise this ….nobody at SDLP has ever tried to steer me in a certain way. Theyve always been content to let me do my thing. So the semi detachment actually works for the almost-independence of the blog.
      Over past month, I think that changed. Attendance at the Victims Discussion…SDLP event at an Feile in West Belfast….very very emotional experience. I blogged about it here.
      I think at that point I no longer wanted to be semi detached….merely gene pool. SDLP is a decent party, decent values, decent people…and I want to allign myself with that.
      I think Conalls resignation was also key. My reaction to that (again Ive blogged about it) was a feeling of sadness more appropriate as a member than a blogger.
      earlier this week I rejoined SDLP or…more just paid the membership fee on Tuesday.
      Membership DOES impose certain limitations on Blogging.
      For example, the South Belfast Convention tonight…necessarily as a supporter and later member…Ive observed that all week….and necessarily looked on it as an “internal matter” and therefore inappropriate to blog about.
      It was the first real test of a conflict of interest between membership/support and independently minded blogging.
      Necessarily I could not say or do anything that would promote one or other candidate. Both are excellent candidates.
      But yesterday that was sorely tested. Slugger ran a thread which was absolute SHYTE and I knew it. But I could not actually say that yesterday. I had to hold myself back.
      It was surprisingly easy to hold myself back because within 24 hours of it being written, the whole world would know it was SHYTE.

      And for months I have been hinting that I can no longer sustain running this BLOG. I have deliberately blogged only a little for a few weeks. It is simply too much for me.
      therefore re-joining Party was comparatively easy…in a short time there will be no “conflict” as this Blog wont exist.

      Sorry if this is long winded.
      But your question deserved the most comprehensive answer I can give.

      • Mark says:

        Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question . I’ve just read your ” Sometimes …..There Are No Words ” thread and I respect your request to leave comments aside .

        I didn’t realise your were active with SDLP during the 70s ….I’ve always felt there were two phases during the troubles – the 70s and the rest . It’s interesting for me that you changed your thinking and voted SF in 93 while the Provos were still active . I think I understand when you say ” educated guesswork is very different to actually knowing something ” .

        Sorry to hear your blog is winding down as it seemed a viable vehicle for posters to express their opinions ….opinions which wouldn’t see the light of day elsewhere .

  3. FJH,

    I was guarded in what I said on Slugger yesterday. No linkback – I know you don’t like them – but people can read what I actually thought, currently towards the bottom of Alan’s thread.

    Precis: a small move smartly made by the party leader; and a very good night for the SDLP.

    • Mick…Been a long night …Belfast and all that.
      And Ive briefly read the latest there on Slugger..and fair enough thats actually a decent analysis.
      Im intrigued to know how David McCanns analysis was so pisspoor and at variance so much with the actual result.
      I was never in any real doubt that Fearghal would win.
      There is actually a lot of stuff to be teased out there and if I was still an independently minded (more or less) blogger, Id contribute to that discussion.
      For credibility sake I would avoid the analysis that Middle Aged Man beats Woman, Machine beats Individual, Old SDLP beats New SDLP, Ormeau beats Balmoral….all of that would be lazy but some of your contributors will go for the easy option. But your savvy enough to know that theres more to it than that.
      This was as you observe a very good night for the SDLP.
      And for Gods sake get rid of that pic of Fearghal ….its unfair. On Sunday night Alan tweeted it….and hhe said it was only one on Slugger archive and as I said then, Im sure SDLP can provide one.

      Intentionally or otherwise it just looks like a cheap shot.
      Feel free to use mine.

      • Mick says:

        That’s because it’s based on real conversations and research.

        Now all I need is an SDLP to quit lurking or sniping from afar a start putting a best foot forward? I’ve lammed out specific invites to SDLPers since August 03, and never got more than 3/4 posts out of them.

        Maybe big Al can steady the ship enough to induce someone to make some leaps into the future. Cutting away the sentimental rhetoric should clear the space for some harder hitting politics. If people will only take the opportunity to espouse them.

      • While I dont doubt the conversations that you might have had…I genuinely respect you enough to accept that….I honestly cant take that David McCanns analysis (sic) was based on ENOUGH “conversations” for him to assert that Claire was edging it and that Fearghal needed a last day surge.
        The actual figures dont justify that at all.
        And not to be wise after the fact…but understandably I would not have said anything of substance in the days before the event.
        Not taking a dig here but the near last day preview did suprise me a bit from the perspective that a lock down on Slugger might have been in order. Your call. But another analysis of David McCanns “analysis” might be less kind.
        Lurking.
        Oh yes I can say with certainty that SDLP DO read Slugger. But really there would be no point in any SDLP input into Slugger. Slugger is not exactly a friend of SDLP. And while accepting that your own threads are a mixture of letsgetalongerist antipathy, genuine analysis and devils advocate…there would be absolutely no point in engaging with Alliance attack dogs and lapdogs.
        Comrade Stalin is a wind up merchant.
        And Ian Parsley….sweet Jesus give me a break.
        I only became the Unofficial SDLP person on Slugger thru default. Nobody else was doing it. Sniping? unfair surely.
        Theres no point sending out invites to official SDLP sources. Theres certainly a point in engaging in genuine debate…but the commenters really make that impossible.
        And I think your own declaration that some views are better protected than others doesnt help. You tolerated a loyalist troll for far too long. I dont suppose the feedback on that was good.
        I dont particuarly like to snipe at Slugger here or on politics.ie but frankly you would not give me the licence to say what I say about Slugger and friends there…
        What exactly is my record on yellow cards there? Three. All for Trivia that your favoured people would get away with.
        What you and I do is entertain political anoraks.
        You cant expect to be a cerebral political message board…Slugger at its best (as Ive often said) and have the kinda half-wit commenter that you tolerate.
        At its best you are the David Frost of the message boards. And in that sense Slugger deserves respect.
        Going downmarket as Jeremy Kyle…or worse Stephen Nolan….why would SDLP engage with that?

      • David Frost? Aw come on!!

        AnyHOO. What’s the point of SDLP talking on Slugger? You get to try out new ideas, test them, and move on. You get to joust with others from other parties in a plural space, and find their weak points. And you get to experience the opportunities and the pitfalls in a relatively safe online space.

        Most importantly, you get a chance you practice a voice in public.

      • Thats the point…jousting. Its play- time.
        There too much of that.

      • It’s play, but it can also be serious play. In the SDLP there’s not been enough of that, of late. My point, if I might return to that, is to argue that you a stable ship in order to play on deck. That requires toughness and resolve. And, to an extent, not giving a damn how others try to rig the deck against you, but resolvedly playing your own game.

      • You know Ive been preaching for years that SDLP play its own game. Thats what theyve been doing. And it will pay off.

  4. Mark says:

    Fitz , I’ve asked you on your site as opposed to Micks because I’m genuinely interested in your reponse as I’ve read most of your posts on SOT on the whole SF / SDLP modern day polictics thing .

  5. boondock says:

    Will McDonnell stay as an MLA until the next Assembly election or will he stand aside sooner? Will Hanna and McKinney keep both SDLP seats next time round (despite all his charisma McDevitt struggled to get the SDLP vote out) or is Alliance a real threat. On the vote last night it seemed like the logical thing to do as Hanna will get her chance soon enough. McKinney is a likeable guy and I wish him all the best hopefully this can put some closure on the whole sorry FST mess.

    • From my perspective a little too early and too “raw” to analyse Conalls contribution.
      He had certainly positioned himself as Leader-in-Waiting and that is a big prize to give up.
      I keep harking back o the Election of 2011…I was at the South Belfast count and the disappointment in SDLP ranks was there for all to see.
      Nobody really thought that they would slip from 16 seats to 14….and while they were certainly unlucky in enough places (like FST) to think that that it can be reversed next time…I think Conall took it badly as he was one of the main architects.
      I honestly think he was let down by people he thought were friends.
      He more than anyone else had reached out to the so called “middle ground” They all liked him but in the secrecy of the polling station, they let him down.
      Thats how I read it.
      I think in the two years since, he was getting more things right. But I think he never really got over the disappointment.

    • South Belfast was allocated equally among the two SDLP candidates in 2011. Conall struggled but not really as much as is thought. As I recall Maskey and McGimpsey didnt make quota either.
      So with safe SDLP (they topped poll) safe Alliance (Lo topped poll) and safe DUP seats it was always a case of any three from four (SF, UUP, second SDLP or second DUP). So its a myth to say that he struggled any more than the rest. And it has to be seen in context of dropping from 16 seats to 14 seats.
      I was at that count. SDLP disappointed at overall result and Conall clearly shell-shocked. It wasnt supposed to happen.
      And I think Conall had thought that his personal outreach to “letsgetalongerists” would pay off with a personal vote. It didnt. And I think he had the right to feel personally insulted by it. As I said somewhere else, there are a lot of people out there (unionists and so called middle ground) who LIKE SDLP or claim that they do but when chips are down…wont actually vote SDLP or let their daughters marry one.
      Thats what Conall discovered.
      He deserved better.
      I think he learned from that. He wasnt elected in South Belfast because of the outreach. Primarily he owed his election to SDLP core voters.
      Certainly I saw him change in the years since that Election.

  6. I believe that McDonnell will retire in 2016, he wants to be the one who saved the SDLP from disintegration, however as someone who has many friends in SDLP and SF I believe that the SDLP is still in danger of imploding.

    I see this as McDonnell securing his position. McKinney and McDonnell have been joined at the hip.

    I do believe that Conal was nailed, and I am glad, as I disliked him intensely, and if I am correct, you have to ask who profits.

    All of which leaves me to agree with Jean, the posts on Slugger were keek, as anyone who had a modicum of sense knows.

  7. I feel a little bit the way I’ve felt at the talk in the summer of Robinson’s alleged imminent departure. It’s going to happen in a prescribed timescale. Certainly, his task is non trivial, and would not be helped by prematurely departing for a Westminster only.

    I’d guess winning matters more to him than self undoing powerplays over double jobbing. So he’s not going to name the date of his exit early to enable opponents to start dismissing him as a lame duck.

    The effect he needs to the opposite. He needs to be less predictable, and build on a sense that he can pick fights and win them. It’s the opposite of the party’s mythology up to now: ie, they let their opponents pick the fights, set all the frames and predictably cowpe in the face of danger.

    To repeat myself somewhat in another place, there are no grandiloquent gestures or narratives that will change the party’s fortunes overnight. In fact a surfeit of grandiloquence has been in part what has turned both voters and the media off from listening to what they have to say.

    Ms Hanna’s distinctive good grace in losing will have done her future prospects no harm at all. She is signally that the party comes before personal ambition. A signal to some very very short sighted colleagues further up the internal foodchain that business as usual is not good enough.

    As von Molke famously said, no strategy ever survives engagement with the enemy. It could all crash and burn over the next three years.

    But whilst the media has such low expectations of the party, and their nationalist opponents are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Leinster House, now is the time to get the fundamental groundwork done.

    And then, when the time is right, come out fighting only this time with a reasoned and reasonable expectation of some success…

    • basically Mick …SDLP do better when it IS the SDLP.
      People will dismiss it as a coalition…but all of us are republican, socialist, nationalist in some measure. And all of us civil righters at heart.
      Civil Rights…it hasnt gone away you know.
      And time that those total waste of spaces in the Golden Halo were challenged to do the SDLP a favour for once.

  8. sorry, it’s ‘not going to happen in a prescribed timescale’…

  9. It was nearly a picture of Fearghal in a fish and chip shop if I’d stopped and chatted last Sunday lunchtime. On reflection – post deciding to throw caution to the wind and use it last night to get the post with the result up quickly – it serves to illustrate his broadcasting and panel-chairing background. After all, that is what he’s being introduced as on the radio this morning, and oddly not as a previous SDLP candidate or party worker. Fearghal’s challenge is now to quickly reposition and reinvent himself to be seen as an MLA rather than an ex-broadcaster. I look forward to speaking to him at – or before – the SDLP conference and getting an up-to-date snap.

    • Im sure the SDLP Press Office can be relied upon to provide one.
      To use the pic on the night of his election as a SDLP MLA to show his “panel chairing background” with a UUP logo…come on Alan, nobody would buy that one.
      It just looks like a cheap shot. And Ive not known you to do that before.
      I recall saying to you just a few weeks ago that I took a pic of a panel (the Amnesty do) and you were caught in the pic and that I wouldnt use it.
      1 being to respect your semi anonymity (I dont think youd take my pic and publish it as you respect my semi-anonymity)
      But 2….you may recall me saying the pic wasnt flattering.
      In fairness you often look “at your best”
      And I never look “at my best” .

  10. Mick says:

    It’s a ‘pull’ world FJH. Late night story, pressure to publish. Creative commons still a rarity. You whack in ‘good enough’. No ones making a fuss about it, but you.

  11. zig70 says:

    I don’t see why you can’t be in the party and blog, maybe naive on my part. I’d hope you keep blogging. I don’t think it would do sdlp harm to remind them what they say may be analysed and faced outward. Unless you are thinking of standing?

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