It’s all-change for the DUP in the May 22 council elections, with just two of the seven 2011 candidates running this time, not to mention the great unknown of the much-changed wards in preparation of the new ABC council.
Last time, they gained four of the seven Portadown seats, now reduced to six in a much wider area, which includes Loughgall. And out of the race are big-hitters Sydney Anderson MLA (who attracted twice the quota last time), Gladys McCullough and ex-Mayor Alan Carson, who are retiring from politics.
New man on the block in 2011 was Darryn Causby who has made quite a name in local politics, and he will be leading the Portadown team this time. He will have the experience of Armagh council member Terry McWilliams (with a business in Edenderry) and new man Johnny Buckley, who was co-opted to replace Mr Anderson. Mr McWilliams currently represents the Cusher Ward in Armagh.
Mr Causby’s prediction is that the three DUP will make it, along with one UUP, the sole SDLP man (Eamon McNeill of Kilmore) and one Sinn Fein. It will be a much-splintered unionist vote, with two UUP, one UKIP, one TUV and one PUP on the hustings. The SDLP are running one, there is an NI21 in the field and two Sinn Fein two, plus one Alliance.
In Craigavon, things will be more difficult for the pro-Union vote, with Robert Smith and newcomer Margaret Tinsley the two hopefuls. They had three last time – Robert Smith, who sailed home on the first count, his father Woolsey (who has retired from politics and is replaced by the co-opted Tinsley) and Louise Templeton who failed narrowly.
But it’s a much-changed ward, having lost Edenderry and part of Killicomaine, and with much of the nationalist Loughside area appended. There are five seats and it will go either way 3-2 unionist or nationalist with the scales tipped towards the nationalists.
Said Mr Smith, “It’s imperative that the unionists come out to vote and that they transfer to unionist-minded candidates throughout the card.” There are two UUP in the field, three SF, two SDLP, one Alliance, one Independent and one PUP.