Four names enter fray for council by-election

THERE will be four names in the hat for the Craigavon Borough Council by-election next month.

The line-up for the poll in the Lurgan Ward on Wednesday January 13 will be - David Calvert (TUV), Jo-Anne Dobson (UUP), Liam Mackle (Sinn Fein) and Pat McDade (SDLP).

The poll will, in effect, be a straight fight between Calvert and Dobson, as the Lurgan Ward - which also takes in Waringstown and Donaghcloney - is overwhelmingly unionist, having returned three UUP, three DUP and one Sinn Fein in the 2005 council elections.

One of the three DUP men - Mark Russell who gained the least votes of the successful trio in 2005 - turned TUV last year and it was he who resigned his seat last month to create the vacancy.

Fellow TUV member David Calvert was nominated by the party for a co-option, but none of the sitting councillors would second his name after Independent Unionist David Jones proposed him and the by-election was called.

Yesterday, Mr Calvert - who served on Craigavon Borough Council from 1973-89 - was still seething at the snub and called on the others to withdraw. But by the nomination deadline none had agreed.

The Lurgan businessman, a father of three, was something of a firebrand during his council days, and he survived two murder attempts, the most serious being in 1986 when he was shot in the head and stomach.

Mrs Dobson had a high-powered UUP entourage with her when she was last to be nominated at Craigavon Civic Centre yesterday, including party leader Sir Reg Empey, Euro MP Jim Nicholson, Upper Bann MLAs Sam Gardiner, George Savage, Craigavon Mayor Meta Crozier and Carol Black who won the Dromore by-election in Dromore last year against most predictions.

The Waringstown woman works for Mr Nicholson as a research assistant. She is married with two sons, one of whom is at Cambridge University and the second who underwent a kidney transplant a couple of years ago.

Sinn Fein's Liam Mackle lives in Lurgan with his wife and two children. A graduate in History from Queen's University and in Law from the University of Ulster, he has been working with the Children's Law Centre for 10 years.

Announcing the nomination the Sinn Fin Group Leader on Craigavon Council, Mairead O'Dowd said: "With his experience in helping others, both from both a social and a legal perspective, Liam is exactly what is needed to bring a breath of new life to the council."

SDLP's Pat McDade is a self-employed joiner with three daughters. He is chairman of St Michael's GAA Club in Maralin, and lives in Waringstown.

A dedicated community and youth worker, he has already started his campaign in Maralin where he was brought up. "I'm delighted with the positive response," he said. "It will be a challenge to get the vote out at this of year."