DCSIMG

Causeway Coast and Glens: Small councils merge into giant northern belt

Coleraine Council

Coleraine Council

One consequence of the local government shake-up is the disappearance of some truly tiny authorities – and nowhere will this be more keenly felt than in the new north coast council.

Called Causeway Coast and Glens (although, like other authorities, it could opt to rename itself), the council that voters will elect on May 22 takes in an area previously covered by four different authorities.

At the centre of it will be the nearly 60,000-strong unionist stronghold of the old Coleraine Borough Council, which will be joined by the councils of Limavady (population as of 2012: 33,761), Ballymoney (population: 31,551) and Moyle (population: 17,129).

With its total number of residents not far off the Co Down town of Banbridge, the latter is far and away the smallest of the Province’s current crop of councils – with Ballymoney a distant second.

At present Moyle has 15 councillors, Limavady has 15, Ballymoney has 16, and Coleraine 22.

This total of 68 will go down to just 40 in the new arrangements, and – echoing a fear heard in councils across the land – Coleraine UUP councillor David Barbour said: “As regards communications and getting things done, I don’t think bureaucratically it will make it any easier.”

Prior to the 1973 shake-up of Northern Ireland’s government there were more than 70 local councils, he said, adding: “I think small is beautiful.

“The larger a thing grows, the dangers are that it’s much more difficult to control.”

While other councils are opting to rotate their meeting places for the time being, it has already been decided that meetings of the new authority will be held in his own council base of Coleraine.

However, the location of the official headquarters (where staff such as the chief executive will be based) has not been determined yet.

But apart from what many will see as the more remote nature of this newly revamped arrangement, which will stretch from Rathlin Island towards the edge of the Sperrins, it is also believed the changes will lead to a more politically-divided council.

Coleraine and Ballymoney are both heavily dominated by unionists – mainly the DUP.

The opposite is true of Limavady and Moyle, where in both cases Sinn Fein is the strongest party right now.

Assuming the party make-up does not change radically after polling day, bringing the disparate ideological outlooks of these parties together in a single chamber could be a recipe for more heated exchanges.

Mr Barbour, who is not standing again after having been more than 17 years on the council, said: “You could have a strong DUP and a strong Sinn Fein representation.

“At that stage then you’re into something almost akin to the battles that sometimes can happen in Stormont.”

DUP group leader James McClure – who at 88 is both the oldest and longest-serving councillor in Coleraine (with over 30 years in post) – said: “It wasn’t badly divided before, you know. Definitely not. We were able to all work together fairly well.

“But whenever this comes in, I foresee that it could be a bit different.”

As well as the mainstream parties, nine TUV candidates are standing across the region, plus a handful from other parties, including Alliance, UKIP and NI21 (which is mislabelled as Aspire to Better on the official paperwork).

The north coast area has a history of being fairly friendly to independents, with six now in office.

As is often the case, many campaigning under the independent banner for this election had previously operated under the umbrella of one of the mainstream parties.

One, Charley ‘Pappy’ O’Kane, had been expected to stand for the SDLP in Ballymoney.

Then earlier this year he made a public call for the SDLP to withdraw its support for the police following his concerns about PSNI activities in the region – in particular, a recent raid on the house of a Balnamore man.

He is now no longer a party member, and is running on an independent ticket instead.

Another unaffiliated candidate is Padraig Pearse McShane.

A Moyle councillor and former Sinn Fein politician, he bills himself as a “committed pacifist and humanitarian” and is now standing in the Glens area for the new council.

Your candidates

BENBRADAGH:

Orla Beattie (SDLP)

Michael Coyle (SDLP)

Boyd Douglas (TUV)

Tony McCaul (SF)

Sean McGlinchey (SF)

Dermot Nicholl (SF)

Edgar Scott (DUP)

BANN:

Ciaran Archibald (SF)

Sam Cole (DUP)

Eliabeth Collins (TUV)

Richard John Holmes (UUP)

William King (UUP)

Michelle Knight-McQuillan (DUP)

Roisin Loftus (SDLP)

Charlie McConaghy (Alliance)

BALLYMONEY:

William Blair (TUV)

Harry Boyle (SDLP)

John Finlay (DUP)

Stephen William McFarland (Alliance)

Philip McGuigan (SF)

Jamise McIlhagga (TUV)

Tom McKeown (UUP)

Alan McLean (DUP)

Angela Mulholland (SDLP)

Charley ‘Pappy’ O’Kane (Independent)

Leanne Peacock (SF)

James Simpson (NI Conservatives)

Ian Richard Stevenson (DUP)

Jonathan Wallace (DUP)

Darryl Wilson (UUP)

COLERAINE:

Yvonne Boyle (Alliance)

Trevor Clarke (DUP)

Tommy Collins (TUV)

Tracy Craig (DUP)

George Duddy (DUP)

Billy Ellis (no party listed)

Phyllis Fielding (DUP)

Margaret Fleming (SF)

David Harding (UUP)

William McCandless (UUP)

Christopher McCaw (NI21)

William Ogilby (UKIP)

Stephanie Quigley (SDLP)

Russell Watton (PUP)

CAUSEWAY:

Leanne Abernethy (no party listed)

David Alexander ( NI21)

Frank Ambrose Campbell (DUP)

Mark Fielding (DUP)

Barney Fitzpatrick (Alliance)

Maura Hickey (SDLP)

Norman Hillis (UUP)

Sandra Hunter (UUP)

Bill Kennedy (DUP)

Angela Knott (DUP)

Sharon McKillop (TUV)

Robert McPherson (UUP)

Adrian Parke (UKIP)

Thomas Sterling (TUV)

Alison Torrens (Independent)

LIMAVADY:

Jason Allen (SDLP)

Aaron Callan (UUP)

Brenda Chivers (SF)

Rory Donaghy (SF)

Howard Gordon (TUV)

Jonathan Samuel Holmes (DUP)

Raymond Kennedy (UUP)

James McCorkell (DUP)

Gerry Mullan (SDLP)

Richard Nicholl (UKIP)

Alan Robinson (DUP)

THE GLENS:

Joan Baird (UUP)

Donal Cunningham (SDLP)

Ambrose Martin Laverty (Independent)

Colin Mayrs (Alliance)

Joanne McKeown (SDLP)

Margaret Anne McKillop (SDLP)

Cara McShane (SF)

Padraig Pearse McShane (Ind)

Kieran James Mulholland (SF)

Cyril Quigg (TUV)

Evelyne Robinson (DUP)

Colum Thompson (SF)

 

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