Building on republican potential in Antrim
Sinn Féin is campaigning to regain the party's seat on Antrim
Borough Council on 2 February. The party wants to ensure nationalist
representation on a body that has a long history of neglect,
sectarianism and discrimination. Caítlin Doherty reports.
Pauline Davey-Kennedy walks towards the Randelstown Health Centre with confidence. Above her head, the UVF placard and Union Jacks are chilling reminders of the intimidation nationalist people in the area have to endure on a daily basis.
The loyalist displays in the estate of Nielsbrooke, County Antrim, where the health centre lies, are openly tolerated in public by Antrim Borough Council and are a perfect example of the battle the Sinn Féin candidate in the Antrim North West By-Election is engaged in.
``This community needs a strong voice to fight its corner'', insists Davey-Kennedy. ``A strong turnout on polling day will ensure that the status-quo and patterns of sectarianism reproduced with the help of Antrim Borough Council's complacency are actively challenged.
The election is also about rescuing a Sinn Féin seat. The poll was called after the former Sinn Féin councillor was forced to resign due to bankruptcy.
The SDLP refused to co-opt a Sinn Féin representative, forcing the council to waste money to elect a single councillor who will sit for just14 months. As a result, there is a possibility of a unionist taking the republican seat.
Martin Meehan, Assembly member for the area, says the SDLP has effectively split the nationalist vote. ``After the SDLP lost council seats in Newry/Mourne and South Down, Sinn Féin did not force a by-election, but these two gestures have not been reciprocated.''
``This is an insult to the nationalist electorate of South Antrim. People should now come out to show their disgust at the SDLP's move and support Pauline Davey-Kennedy,'' Meehan added.
Pauline Davey-Kennedy no new face in local politics. She has years of experience in grass-roots campaigning and has already served a four-year term in Magherafelt. Her priority in Randelstown is to tackle the problem of sectarianism and intimidation of nationalists. In Toome, she is set to defend the residents of one of the most deprived nationalist areas of the region. She will also tackle the problem of traffic congestion, pollution, the lack of adequate recreational facilities and finally child care.
Sinn Féin candidate for Antrim Borough Council Pauline Davey-Kennedy in front of the Health Centre in Randelstown