Macedon DUP Councillor Thomas Hogg has expressed his delight at being elected the last ever mayor of Newtownabbey.
The 26-year-old, who works for North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley in her Glengormley office, was appointed to the role at the council’s AGM on Monday night (June 2). Alliance Party veteran Pat McCudden was elected deputy mayor.
Alderman Hogg was nominated for the post at the eleventh hour after DUP officials decided that his party colleague, outgoing deputy mayor Dineen Walker, would not be put forward for the top job.
She had been expected to take over as first citizen, but missed out after sparking controversy last week by posting a comment on a social media site describing Alliance MLA Anna Lo as “racist”.
Although Cllr Walker removed the post and apologised for the remark, the party took the decision that she shouldn’t be nominated for the role of mayor.
The Macedon representative, who didn’t secure a seat on the new super council, wasn’t at Monday’s AGM, but it’s understood that she’s “disappointed” to have missed out on becoming mayor.
The Times made several attempts to contact Cllr Walker, but she hadn’t responded at the time of publication.
Asked if he was surprised to have been nominated for the mayor’s post instead of Cllr Walker, Alderman Hogg said: “I want to thank Cllr Walker for her very excellent year as deputy mayor. I think she really distinguished herself. I would like to wish her all the very best for the future.”
Declining to comment on the controversy surrounding his party colleague’s remark about Anna Lo, he said: “I think there are more pressing matters to discuss.”
Alderman Hogg is the borough’s youngest ever mayor, and will be the last councillor to hold the post ahead of the formation of the new Antrim and Newtownabbey Council on April 1, 2015.
The Territorial Army soldier, who is originally from Maguiresbridge in Co Fermanagh, thanked his party for nominating him for the position and colleagues from other parties for supporting him.
Congratulating Alderman McCudden on his election as deputy, Alderman Hogg said: “I hope that in the 10 months that lie ahead that we can work together, complement each other and do our very best for Newtownabbey.”
Alderman McCudden thanked his colleagues for giving him such “a great honour”.
The 71-year-old Ballyclare man, who didn’t win a seat on the new super council, previously held the deputy mayor’s post in 1980/81.
“I am very privileged to have this role yet again,” he told the Times. “I am looking forward to working with Thomas. We work very well together and certainly in the past we have complemented each other. I represent the rural side of the borough and Thomas the urban, so I think there is a good contrast there. Both of us will work hard for the people of Newtownabbey.”