Two Ulster Unionist councillors are stepping down from Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council - with one, it is claimed, ‘demoralised, embarrassed and ashamed’ with NI politics.
Cllr Colin McCusker (Lurgan DEA) who has held senior positions in the party, and relative newcomer Cllr Marc Woods (Lagan River DEA) have not sought their party’s nomination at recent selection meetings in Upper Bann.
A former mayor, Cllr McCusker had been widely tipped as a candidate for the 2016 Assembly election but withdrew for family reasons.
Sources close to Cllr McCusker, son of the late MP Harold McCusker, said he was very demoralised after two elections in 2017 and felt embarrassed and ashamed to be involved in NI politics.
The source said: “Colin put a huge amount of effort and time into rebuilding the party and this culminated in the 2016 Assembly election when he worked very closely with then UUP leader Mike Nesbitt to deliver 16 seats for the Party having gained two MPs in 2015. He was exhausted after that campaign, and the two 2017 elections wiped out all that hard work in one fell swoop. He was very demoralised in 2017.
“He found himself embarrassed and ashamed to say he was involved in politics, given the collapse of the Assembly and everything associated with that. This disillusionment led him to take the decision to exit politics where he no longer had any enthusiasm. He has returned to work in the private sector where he had worked for 20 years prior to 2012.
“Its very simple, he has no issues with the UUP, but has fallen out with NI politics generally. He enjoys family life, and that’s where he intends to spend his spare time.”
An UUP spokesperson said: “Councillors Colin McCusker and Marc Woods are not seeking reselection to contest the Local Government elections in 2019. We thank both for their service and wish them all the best for the future.”
Cllr Colin McCusker said: “My decision to enter politics was a leap of faith on my part. The NI political scene has changed completely from 2010 and is a much more negative arena in which to operate.
“The life of a Councillor is very time consuming – more than I had anticipated – and for that reason I have decided to let someone else have a go.”
It is understood Cllr Woods also felt council life time-consuming and wanted to concentrate on family commitments.
Candidates are being sought for next year’s council elections.