Bobby McKee wears chain a third time

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NEWLY elected Larne councillors have brokered a power-sharing deal which allocates the top posts in the local authority according to party strength.

Under the terms of the four-year pact agreed during a two-day residential at the Burrendale hotel in Co Down last week the DUP, which has four councillors, had first choice in nominating for mayor at Monday night’s annual meeting and Cllr Bobby McKee was returned unopposed to the office he has held on two previous occasions.

The Ulster Unionists and Alliance, who each have three councillors, will take up the chain in the next two years and sole SDLP representative Martin Wilson, former public services committee chairman, is also in line for the top job.

The first deputy mayor of the new council is Michael Lynch, representing Alliance, who also had the unanimous support of the chamber.

Sinn Fein councillor Oliver McMullan will chair the public services committee, which has a consultative role in planning. Cllr Lynch is development committee chairman, the DUP’s Gregg McKeen will preside at environment committee meetings and Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs takes the policy and resources chair.

Drew Niblock (DUP) and Mark McKinty (UUP) were accorded vice-chairmanships in public services and policy and resources respectively; Gerardine Mulvenna (Alliance) deputises in environment; and TUV representative Jack McKee is vice-chairman in the development committee which he chaired last term.

The elder statesmen on the council, Jack McKee and Roy Beggs, retain aldermen’s robes and are joined by another former mayor, DUP man Winston Fulton.

Together with the mayor, they will sit on the aldermen’s committee which is responsible for the smooth running of services when the council is in recess.

Chairman’s allowances and special responsibility payments are to be shared among all 15 members on an annual basis.