The Portadown ward (six seats) threw up surprises literally by the count, with Jonathan Buckley (DUP), David Jones (UKIP), the two Ulster Unionists and SF’s Paul Duffy all in focus.
First blood went to Buckley, a first-timer (co-opted to Craigavon in January) who made it on the first count to become the first member of the new ABC Council.
It was a seismic week for the 22-year-old who, that very week, had completed his dissertation for his Queen’s University Degree in political history, burning the midnight oil as an aspiring politician.
“I can’t believe it,” he said as he studied his 1,738 first preferences against the 1,506 quota. “It’s been a hectic campaign and I especially want to thank my election agent Sydney Anderson MLA who used all his wiles and experience to help me achieve this.”
The other main talking point was David Jones’s emergence for UKIP, making it at the final count without. “Sadly, the main issue on the doorstep was the uncontrolled immigration effect on Portadown,” he said. “UKIP is a UK-wide party and people like myself will have a say nationally, part of a national party that is on the march.”
Sadly for SF, sitting councillor Paul Duffy failed to make it, although Gemma McKenna romped home comfortably on his transfers. He said, “It’s a tough one to take, but there was one seat less in Portadown in a larger DEA.”
And McKenna commented, “The addition of unionist areas like Edenderry and Killicomaine made it difficult for us. We’ve lost an excellent hard-working member with Paul failing to make it, but in ABC we’ve done well overall. And I have to say I’ll lose no sleep with the demise of Craigavon Borough Council.”
The UUP were delighted that, even with one seat fewer, Portadown yielded two seats for the party, with the perennial Arnold Hatch and new man Doug Beattie the victors. Mr Hatch commented, “I had a very strong running mate in Doug this time,” while Mr Beattie also gave much of the credit to new party leader Mike Nesbitt – “He has given a fresh order and a new discipline to the UUP. And that’s just the start of his stewardship. I predict better times ahead.”
The DUP, as expected, had the hard-working Darryn Causby elected, but lost a place with Terry McWilliams failing to make it – David Jones usurped him at the run-in.
Also missing out by a whisker was the SDLP’s Eamon McNeill who survived until the final fence, with the newer unionist parties also losing out – Paul Coleman of the TUV and John Stevenson of PUP – as well as Alliance’s Pete Giffen.
The booby prize, though, went to Kyle Spence of the troubled NI21 who managed a paltry 85 votes, after his bullish pre-election statement of at least one seat – they did gain a seat with Johnny McCarthy in Lisburn, but the party was routed in ABC.