There are plenty of new faces running for election to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on May 18, with 16 out of the 37 candidates in the four Fermanagh wards on the ballot paper for the first time.

But will there be much change at all?

Candidates have spoken about the issues around health, the cost of living, roads, rural issues, and the lack of a functioning Stormont, to name but a few when knocking on the doors, but when it comes to voting day, what will the electorate pick?

All the predictions in the world can be made, but until the votes are counted it is guesswork for the analyst.

Sinn Féin held the most seats back in 2019, with 15, and also had the highest percentage of first preference votes for the first time in Fermanagh, despite losing two Council seats.

They took 33.34 per cent of the first preference votes in 2019.

As the largest party on the island of Ireland, they will be looking to keep that momentum going with First Minister Designate, Michelle O’Neill, saying such council elections will be a chance to reaffirm the Assembly results last year.

In 2019, the SDLP’s first preference votes in Fermanagh were down by 10 per cent compared to 2014; the UUP saw a drop of 15 per cent, while the DUP saw a 27 per cent increase in their first preference votes.

With all that is going on (or not going on) in Northern Ireland at the minute, the local Council is the face of politics here.

It will be interesting to see whether voters come out in force to get the message across or stay at home as a form of protest.

You just have to look at England to see what the discontent of the electorate can do to a governing party.

Independents could have an important say in the election, with their interest being in where their transfers will go, but also how much of the first preference votes they gather.

In 2019, they managed to double their share, to 10 per cent.

And it could also be an interesting day for Alliance. 2019 saw the party vote increase four-fold with just two candidates in Fermanagh.

With a candidate in each ward, could the Alliance growth continue, and possibly lead to a Fermanagh councillor?

TUV – No Sea Border could also have a say in proceedings.

With transfers helping the UUP last time out, the parties have gone in different directions regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol, and this change could see transfers head to other Unionist candidates instead.

But for the readers of The Impartial Reporter to be able to exercise their democratic right and vote, make sure you check your polling card for your polling station.

They are for information purposes only, and are not required to vote.

You will need photographic ,ID such as a driving licence, passport, electoral identity card, certain Translink passes, or a biometric immigration document.

All information on how to vote can be found at