Larne voters help usher in a new era for local politics

Mayor of Larne and UUP member Maureen Morrow, elected in the Coast Road DEA. INLT22-801AC
Mayor of Larne and UUP member Maureen Morrow, elected in the Coast Road DEA. INLT22-801AC

There will be several fresh faces representing Larne’s two electoral areas on the new Mid and East Antrim Council.

The line-up of the new super-council was decided during two days of counting at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre.

When the dust settled, few were surprised to find that the majority of the 10 available seats in the Larne area had been filled by Unionists.

However, the DUP – currently the largest party on Larne Borough Council – no longer commands the most seats in the Larne area.

Instead, they were forced to share the spoils with the UUP, taking three seats apiece.

TUV picked up one seat, Alliance secured two, and Sinn Fein took one to complete the new line-up in the two local electoral areas (Larne Lough and Coast Road).

Despite winning three seats locally, the DUP will feel a tinge of disappointment at having failed to make any significant gains.

Having fielded three candidates in Larne Lough, the party’s gamble did not pay off, with Matthew Scott eliminated at stage two of the count.

And in another blow, the DUP also lost sitting councillor and deputy mayor Drew Niblock in Coast Road. He was was out of the running by the eighth stage of the count.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionists were ebullient, having had all six candidates running in Larne and Carrickfergus elected to the new authority.

Elsewhere, the SDLP lost its sole sitting councillor in the Larne area, Martin Wilson.

Mr Wilson, who was first elected to the local authority in 2001, is due to serve as Mayor of Larne in the final year of the council’s life, which ends on March 31, 2015.

The Alliance Party also lost a sitting councillor: Larne Lough candidate Michael Lynch, who was eliminated at the third stage of the count.

Overall, four of those candidates elected to Mid and East Antrim Council are newcomers to council business: Gordon Lyons (DUP), Ruth Wilson (TUV), Robert Logan (Alliance) and Paul Reid (DUP).

Making a comeback to local politics is former UUP councillor Andy Wilson, who lost his seat in the 2011 election.

Completing the line-up are serving councillors Gregg McKeen (DUP), Maureen Morrow (UUP), James McKeown (Sinn Fein), Mark McKinty (UUP) and Gerardine Mulvenna (Alliance).