Mandate - What Mandate?

The Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective queries the Sinn Fein mandate in North Belfast.

The people of North Belfast endure the worst effects of partition. The Constituency records the highest levels of unemployment, Suicide, Social deprivation and anti social behaviour in the Six-Counties.

Housing needs are more acute in North Belfast than in other constituencies with similar demographics. North Belfast also experiences the gravest consequence of sectarian divisions with the most contentious issues such as Orange order marches and illegal paramilitary protests affecting the lives of residents daily throughout the year.

Nationalists in North Belfast are subjected to continuous RUC harassment/MI5 led policing while in Ardoyne the British Government will spend £18 Million to police an illegal Loyalist picket but not a penny to construct leisure health or sports facilities for a large youth population besieged by addiction, alienation and suicide.

For almost 20 years now the model of governance has been based on the GFA. As such those said to represent the constituency and who are presented by the media as the voice of North Belfast are Stormont politicians. The poor turnout at the recent Assembly election calls this into question but a deeper analysis of the electoral data provides a more startling insight into how we as a community are left without any actual representation at all.

The 2011 Census recorded the total population of North Belfast as being 102,531 persons. The electoral register recorded that 70872 persons registered to vote therefore 31,659 persons were not enrolled upon the register. This could be due to a refusal to register or being debarred from registering due to age or other applicable reasons.

Of the 70872 persons registered to vote a total of 37193 votes were polled. This represents a registered voter turnout of just over half of those eligible to vote (52.48%) yet the polled votes when calculated against the 2011 Census represents a mere 36.27% of the total population participated in the last election. 63.73% did or could not.

619 polled votes were declared invalid or spoiled.

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin are presented by the British media and, they present themselves as the authoritative voice on most contentious issues arising from within this constituency, be they policing, housing or even punishment attacks. Recently, but prior to subsequent events in the New Lodge, Gerry Kelly claimed to speak on behalf of all North Belfast while ordering all of the people to place their lives in jeopardy by becoming police informants.

We have long been aware that British Government-funded Sinn Féin sub groups have been given a blank check by the British exchequer to undermine the very concept of democracy daily, when democracy i.e the people's voice expressed, threatens to impede upon British intent. During Orange coat trailing season in Ard Eoin it is to Sinn Féin that the media will travel for guidance on disputes that Sinn Féin are not involved in. They will claim that the mandate Sinn Féin receives entitles them to that role. What is that mandate in real terms?

Gerry Kelly received 5695 1st preference votes. This figure represents (5.55% of North Belfast's total population). Carál Ni Chuilin received only 4009 1st Preference votes (3.91%).

The sum total of Sinn Féin's overall 1st preference vote was therefore 9704 votes or a tiny (9.46%) of the constituency's recorded total population.

The mainstream media and politicians will argue that these figures are based on a whole population including residents who are ineligible to vote and that electoral data must be based on the system that is employed by the media.

Let us argue that the British Government's refusal, through Sinn Féin localministers, to provide our children with leisure and health facilities, our people with housing, our residents with employment or educational resources, has entitled us to do our own sums in order that we may gain some understanding as to why these people who clearly have no mandate continue to claim one and use that grossly over-exaggerated claim as the generic justification for undermining us, exploiting us, denying us, depriving us.

Less than 10% of the total population in North Belfast are represented by these people. In essence they are a micro group, a micro group with unqualifiable resources and support provided to them by an extremely wealthy foreign government, but a micro group all the same.

The electoral data released to the public does not specify local voting patterns. A freedom of information request has been sent to the electoral office requesting all information relating to the election at Ardoyne Community Centre. This information will be published upon its receipt.

While it s unlikely that anyone in Sinn Féin will take any heed of these figures, aside from using the British based formula to challenge them, it is worth remembering that a West Belfast Party rep who was enraged by the victory of Gerry Carrol in West Belfast, declared that he would not work for anyone who did not vote for the party. In North Belfast that would mean the overwhelming majority of citizens left with out any avenue for recourse on serious issues.

Tory cuts have not hit yet, but they are coming and when they arrive in North Belfast it will be like a sledge hammer falling on a child's toy. For over 20 years Sinn Féin were provided with a strong level of support from the Nationalist people of North Belfast to deliver something, even build something capable of preventing catastrophe. As catastrophe awaits us it is time that we begin to ask, Mandate...


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