Unelected DUP candidates Victor Robinson, Dineen Walker and Robert Hill have joked that they are going to establish a new political party named ‘NI22.’
The Macedon and Threemilewater candidates made the comments after failing to secure election to the new Antrim and Newtownabbey Council.
Making light of the situation, Mrs Walker, who has sat on the Council for 13 years, joked that the new party’s internet address could be: www.wetakeanybody.com.
On a more serious note, Mr Robinson, reflecting on the three candidates’ failure to get elected, stated: “I’m still a Newtownabbey Councillor for the next 10 months but I would have liked to get onto the new supercouncil. I’m still a member of the DUP and will continue to work and hopefully will be back.”
Importantly, Mr Robinson said he believed that one of the reasons for the DUP’s shortcomings was voters using their ballot papers for ‘protest votes.’ He continued: “It’s like UKIP in England-there’s a protest vote out there. Perhaps this has something to do with the flag issue.”
The former Councillor said that he believed the DUP ‘needs to look at its policy and investigate to see what went wrong.’ He added: “We have lost seats all over the place.
“Some very good Councillors have went out.
“We need to regroup and have a look at what went wrong.”
His party colleague Robert Hill said that he was also disappointed, but had enjoyed his time on the Council, where he had served for eight years. He told The Times: “I personally think we ran too many candidates in the area.”
Ballyduff Community Group Representative Stephanie McVicker, who was attending proceedings, added: “Robert holds a seat on our advisory board and he is one of the hardest working, most loyal, most supportive Councillors I have ever met. We could always go to him with any concerns. Ballyduff is not always an easy community and he has always helped us with sensitivity and humour.”
Meanwhile, former Deputy Mayor of Newtownabbey Borough Council Dineen Walker said she ‘really didn’t know what had happened.’ She added: “It is a wake up call for people to get out and vote.”
Echoing Mr Hill’s belief that the party should re-examine its election strategy, she added: “The party needs to have a look at what it needs to do. They ran five candidates for six seats. I knew myself that I was gone.”
Mrs Walker said that the fact that she was a woman and that her surname meant she appeared further down the ballot paper could also have been factor. Focusing on the future, she stated: “I am in the Council for another nine months and I want to take time out to enjoy being with my granddaughter, who is my first grandchild. She laughed: “Or maybe I will join Victor in NI22-we have about five members already!”