There were no great surprises in Cusher – covering Tandragee, Richhill and Markethill – when Jim Speers (UUP), Paul Berry (Ind Un) and Gordon Kennedy (UUP) all stormed home on the first count.
The astute Speers polled 2,221 first preferences to top the poll, Mr Berry proved his indestructibility with 1,924 and Kennedy amassed 1,812 against the 1,749 quota.
Perhaps go-it-alone Mr Berry was even more impressive than Mr Speers. He hadn’t the power of a party behind him – not since the DUP expelled him in 2005, a decision they must have rued ever since, for Mr Berry hasn’t failed a local election.
But there wasn’t a word of recrimination for the Tandragee bane of organised politics. He simply said he’d had immeasurable help from family and political friends and looked forward to continuing in the new order.
“We need inward investment and special attention to our town centres, over which we will have powers,” he said. “There are many challenges ahead.”
Speers recalled that he had made it on the first count since his second election in 1981, “and would be nowhere without my party workers and the fact that I have carried out my duties to the best of my ability, having been entrusted with the position of Mayor of Armagh on two occasions”.
He added that he hoped the spirit of co-operation that pertained in Armagh would be infectious to the new ABC set-up, “as confrontation helps nobody”.
The Cusher Five were completed with the success of the personable SDLP candidate Sharon Haughey, with the popular Gareth Wilson (DUP) also passing the winning post in the most uncomplicated poll in ABC.
But the DUP must still be reflecting that – had they handled the Berry situation in 2005 in a different way - Cusher would have had two in the new council.
Just seven threw their hats in the ring, and failing to make it were Elizabeth Doyle of Sinn Fein and Tim McClelland of the DUP, who both polled over 1,000 first preferences.