Girvan makes Stormont return

BALLYCLARE councillor Paul Girvan has been returned as a Member of the Legislative Assembly to fill the vacancy arising from the resignation of William McCrea MP.

Dr McCrea, recently re-elected as Member of Parliament for South Antrim, gave up his seat at Stormont last week as part of the DUP's pre-election pledge to deal with the controversial practice of double-jobbing.

On Thursday (July 1), Douglas Bain, the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland, confirmed that alderman Girvan had been returned to serve as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the South Antrim constituency. The DUP man previously served as an MLA for the area from 2003 until 2007 when he had to give up his seat after failing to be selected by local party members as one of three South Antrim Assembly election candidates.

Speaking to the Times this week, alderman Girvan said he was honoured that the party had put its faith in him by choosing him to replace Dr McCrea.

"I would like to pay tribute to Dr McCrea who has served the people of South Antrim at the Assembly faithfully over the past number of years. This move will allow him to concentrate his time and effort on his duties at Westminster."

Mr Girvan, who was officially sworn in at Stormont on Friday, added: "I feel unworthy to do so, but I will do my very best to fill Dr McCrea's shoes. I am extremely honoured and I hope and pray that I can do my best to deliver for the people of South Antrim."

Meanwhile, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has not yet stood down from his post as an MLA, though it is understood that the DUP Deputy Leader will do so in the near future. It is thought that several party members are vying for his Stormont seat, including local councillors from Belfast and Newtownabbey.