Antrim & Newtownabbey election profile: Familiar faces who once held higher office fight it out for seats

The cranes and buildings of Belfast seen across Belfast lough from Newtownabbey's Loughshore park
The cranes and buildings of Belfast seen across Belfast lough from Newtownabbey's Loughshore park

Come what may next week, the dominance of unionism on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is essentially assured.

But quite what brand of unionism it will be is not certain; the Ulster Unionists are strong here, with 12 seats to the 14 currently held by the DUP (out of a total of 40 council seats).

In all, the DUP is fielding 20 candidates and Philip Brett, who is both party’s group leader and aide to MP Nigel Dodds, told the News Letter he expects 17 or 18 to make it through this time.

As to what voters are telling him on the doorsteps this year, he said ending the Sinn Fein-DUP deadlock and restoring government comes up frequently.

“I say: ‘Yes we are up for that. But what do you want us to agree to? Do you want us to agree to an Irish language act?’ And as you can imagine, their first response is ‘no’,” he said.

“It’s that difficult balance between wanting the Executive and Assembly restored, and not wanting it done on the basis of demands from other parties.”

Despite these strange political times, he expects turnout at the polls to be a measly 30% to 40% – a combination of the fact this is a stand-alone council election (they are usually held on the same day as other elections), and fatigue from a public wearied by the multiple elections of the past three years.

The fight for control of the constituency is given added interest thanks to the presence of some familiar names, who until recently held higher office.

One is former Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan. He took the South Antrim Westminster seat off the DUP in 2015 – only for the DUP to win it back in 2017.

Asked what got him motivated to re-enter the fray, he said: “Councils are the only working political chambers we have left and I want to get back on the ground to help constituents.”

He said this election should be about local issues, not the DUP playing the “fear factor or green/orange card”.

“This is not another election for the DUP and Sinn Fein to mislead the public and do the damage in councils that they have done in Stormont,” said Mr Kinahan – one of 14 UUP candidates vying for victory.

Another name on the ballot papers is Adrian Cochrane-Watson. Formerly a UUP MLA from 2015 to 2016, he is now standing as an independent.

Adrian Cochrane-Watson revealed to the News Letter he quit the party over an internal row.

“I was told by certain people that I was too outspoken, and that my views were too traditional.

“They were wanting to look at a more liberal outlook in south Antrim. So I told them to go and get stuffed, basically,” he said, laughing, before going on to declare: “Freedom!”

When it comes to those traditional views, he said he had voted against abortion and same-sex marriage as an MLA.

“I’ve no issue with the gay community – absolutely no issue,” he said. “But views like that.”

Other current party strengths on the council are as follows: Sinn Fein – three, SDLP – four, Alliance – four, TUV – one, and two independents.

AIRPORT

Thomas Burns (SDLP)

Anne-Marie Logue (Sinn Fein)

Matthew Magill (DUP)

Ben Mallon (DUP)

Vikki McAuley (Alliance)

Paul Michael (UUP)

Mervyn Rea (UUP)

Cathy Rooney (Sinn Fein)

ANTRIM

Richard William Cairns (TUV)

Adrian Cochrane-Watson (Ind)

Paul Dunlop (DUP)

Neil Kelly (Alliance)

Roisin Lynch (SDLP)

Gerard Magee (Sinn Fein)

Karl McMeekin (DUP)

Jim Montgomery (UUP)

John Smyth (DUP)

Leah Smyth (UUP)

BALLYCLARE

Jeannie Archibald (DUP)

David Arthurs (Ind)

Gary English (Alliance)

Mandy Girvan (DUP)

Danny Kinahan (UUP)

Vera McWilliam (UUP)

Austin Orr (DUP)

Norrie Ramsay (UUP)

Michael Stewart (Ind)

DUNSILLY

Linda Clarke (DUP)

Henry Cushinan (Sinn Fein)

Glenn Finlay (Alliance)

Jordan Greer (DUP)

Andrew Maguire (Sinn Fein)

Roderick Swann (UUP)

Gareth Thomas (UUP)

Ryan Wilson (SDLP)

GLENGORMLEY URBAN

Alison Bennington (DUP)

Phillip Brett (DUP)

Samantha Burns (DUP)

Mark Cosgrove (UUP)

Michael Goodman (Sinn Fein)

Rosie Kinnear (Sinn Fein)

Michael Maguire (UUP)

Noreen McClellan (SDLP)

Julian McGrath (Alliance)

Paul Veronica (Green Party)

MACEDON

Robert Foster (UUP)

Paul Hamill (DUP)

Robert Hill (UKIP)

Thomas William Hogg (DUP)

David Hollis (TUV)

Dean McCullough (DUP)

Taylor McGrann (Sinn Fein)

Victor Robinson (DUP)

Stafford Ward (Ind)

Billy Webb (Alliance)

THREE MILE WATER

Fraser Agnew (UUP)

Norman Jonathan Boyd (TUV)

Tom Campbell (Alliance)

Mark Cooper (DUP)

Sam Flanagan (DUP)

Julie Gilmour (Alliance)

Gary Grattan (Ind)

Stephen McCarthy (UUP)

Stephen Ross (DUP)

Raymond Stewart (UKIP)