29 seek office in what could be the last Larne Borough Council

TWENTY-NINE candidates will contest the 15 seats on Larne Borough Council in the local government election, on Thursday May 5.

Each of the outgoing members is seeking re-election to the Smiley Building chamber and three former councillors have launched comeback bids.

The council to be elected next month could be the last to sit in Larne, if, as widely expected, reform and rationalisation of local government in Northern Ireland takes place in the next four years.

Larne Town district electoral area (DEA) is the most congested, with no fewer than 14 candidates for five seats. There are eight contestants for five seats in the Coast Road DEA and six for the remaining five, in Larne Lough.

Six non-party candidates feature in the Town hustings, including the outgoing Mayor, Roy Craig, and Robert Lindsay Mason, who is also defending his seat. Former Unionist Mayor, Tom Robinson, is seeking a return to local government, as is former council member, environmental campaigner John Anderson.

The ranks of the independent candidates also include Seacourt Community Council chairman, Bertie Shaw, and David Todd, who is chairman of the Larne branch of the Royal British Legion.

Both the Democratic Unionists and the Ulster Unionists have set out to double their respective representation in the Town. Jack McKee is back in the DUP fold and his running mate is Sharon McKeen, a party activist and wife of outgoing Lough councillor, Gregg.

Dr. Brian Dunn, who topped the Town poll for the UUP in 2001, has switched to Coast Road this time, leaving his son, Mark, and businessman Maxi Burns, to take up the baton.

The SDLP's Martin Wilson is seeking a second term on the council, while Islandmagee woman, Elena Aceves-Cully, hopes to gain a seat for Alliance.

Billy Adamson is standing for the Progressive Unionists and the Green Party has fielded a candidate in Mary Ringland.

COAST ROAD

Brian Dunn's transfer to Coast Road is designed to double the UUP representation there. Outgoing councillor Joan Drummond was the lone UUP standard bearer in the last council.

Coast Road poll-topper last time, Winston Fulton, is running again for the DUP, with veteran Rachel Rea as running mate.

Sitting SDLP councillor, Danny O'Connor, takes on Sinn Fein nominee James McKeown for the nationalist vote, while another longstanding councillor, Willie Cunning, hopes to return to the chamber, having lost out four years ago.

For the Alliance Party, Gerardine Mulvenna, outgoing Deputy Mayor, is seeking re-election.

LARNE LOUGH

With six candidates for the five seats in Larne Lough DEA, one is certain to be disappointed.

The Ulster Unionists are once again fielding three candidates. MP Roy Beggs and 2004 by-election winner Andy Wilson are defending their seats, with Jonathan Moore as a running mate.

Poll-topper in 2001, former Mayor Bobby McKee and outgoing Councillor Gregg McKeen are intent on maintaining the status quo for the DUP, as is the long-serving Alliance alderman, John Mathews.