North Down and Ards: Grey vote will count in area with most retired voters

North Down Town Hall
North Down Town Hall

This new combined council ought perhaps merely to be called ‘North Down’.

Within its boundaries will be much more of the northern half of the County of Down than was ever contained within the outgoing council of that name, which in effect only covered the northern fringe of Down along Belfast Lough.

But, in what was presumably a diplomatic bid to ensure that the burghers of the old Ards district felt equally included, the supercouncil will be called North Down and Ards.

It is similar in territory to the combined Westminster constituencies of North Down and Strangford.

It is, therefore, not dissimilar to the larger North Down seat from which those two constituencies emerged in 1983, that was in the 1970s held by the unionist Jim Kilfedder.

“The first person I voted for was Jim Kilfedder as a young boy of 18 [in 1974],” recalls the DUP’s Jim Shannon, who would ultimately inherit the Strangford segment of the late MP’s parliamentary fiefdom.

Mr Shannon knows the more southerly chunk of the new supercouncil intimately.

“As an Ards man, I would like to see within the amalgamation Ards keeping its individuality, which it has had for a couple of hundred years,” he told the News Letter. “It is important that it’s part of the new council, but not absorbed.”

It is undecided if the council will have headquarters in Bangor Townhall or Newtownards, and shadow meetings of the emerging body will alternate between them. The latter location would make geographical sense, being close to the midpoint of a district that includes Holywood to the west and Donaghadee to the east, Bangor to the north and Killinchy to the south, and the Ards peninsula, between Strangford Lough and the Irish Sea.

The region is overwhelmingly unionist, with pockets of nationalist voters in the peninsula, but like other affluent parts of eastern Northern Ireland, there are many ‘neither’ voters who dislike tribal designation, and often back Alliance or independents.

For this reason, North Down and Ards will probably not return a DUP majority, as would almost any other council area that had a similarly dominant percentage of Protestant voters.

Number crunchers expect Peter Robinson’s party to fall just short of taking half the 40 seats. Alliance and the Ulster Unionists are battling for second place, with both likely to secure six to nine seats.

NI21 will hope to poll well in an area as moderate as northern Co Down.

A nationalist councillor is expected to be returned from the Portaferry area, probably Joe Boyle of the SDLP.

That town currently has the Exploris aquarium, the doubtful future of which is one of the few potentially controversial issues in this election.

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry, who was a North Down councillor for 18 years, cites the future of Bangor seafront, much of which has been derelict for several years, as another unresolved matter.

Mr Shannon raises concerns in Ards that North Down does not have as much money in reserve, after its expense on the prestigious £38m Olympic-sized Aurora pool.

Councillors will be mindful of the grey vote: the supercouncil’s 157,000 population will include the most people aged 65+ in any new district. It might also be the richest area, with 27 per cent of people holding a degree or higher level qualification.

Your candidates:


Robert Hugh Adair (DUP)

Kellie Mary Armstrong (All)

Sheila Bailie (SF)

Joseph Timothy Boyle (SDLP)

John David Bustard (NI21)

Angus Yeaman Carson (UUP)

Nigel Edmund (DUP)

Paul Leeman (NI Conservatives)

Colin Robert McCormick (All)

Edward Burns Thompson (DUP)

Louise Sara Alexandra Wallace (DUP)


Naomi Esther Hannah Armstrong (DUP)

Linda Cleland (Alliance)

Ian Stephen Alexander Cox (Independent)

John Colville Elliott (DUP)

Katherine Ferguson (UUP)

Sharon Elizabeth Hunt (Ind)

Nichola Keenan (NI21)

Colin George Dallas Kennedy (DUP)

Alan Joseph McDowell (All)

Stephen McIlveen (DUP)

William Wallace McKendry (NI Conservatives)

David Mark McMullen (TUV)

James Menagh (Independent)

Richard John Smart (UUP)


Daniel Allen (UUP)

John Barry (Green)

Stephen Gordon Dunne (DUP)

Jennifer Mary Gilmour (DUP)

Matthew Ian Johnston (NI21)

Gerard Gabriel Alphonsus Leddy (Independent)

Peter Gerard Lismore (SDLP)

James Hamilton McKerrow (UUP)

Andrew David Muir (Alliance)

Kate Siobhan Nicholl (Alliance)

William David Fergus O’Callaghan (NI Conservatives)


Stuart David Anderson (All)

Colin Mark Breen (Independent)

Alistair John Cathcart (DUP)

David Alan Chambers (Ind)

William Lee Cudworth (TUV)

Roberta Mahood Dunlop (DUP)

Nicholas Richard David Fell (All)

Peter James Floyd (NI21)

Mark Currell Gordon (Community Partnership NI)

Adam Harbinson (DUP)

Ian John Cyril Henry (UUP)

Wesley Graham Irvine (DUP)

Mary Louise Macartney (Ind)

Carl Christian McClean (UUP)

William John Montgomery (UKIP)

Noelle Anne Robinson (Green)

David Kenneth Symington(Cons)


Mark Ronald Brooks (UUP)

Albert Alan Chambers (Ind)

Christopher Ryan Eisenstadt (UUP)

Trana Gray (Green)

William David Keery (DUP)

Terence Hamilton Malcolm (DUP)

Peter James Martin (DUP)

Brian Alexander McBride (Cons)

William John Phineas McKee (NI21)

Thomas John Smith (DUP)

Joseph Edward Strutt (TUV)

Patrick John Toms (UKIP)

Gavin Walker (Alliance)


John William Hunter Andrews (NI Conservatives)

Stephen James Cooper (TUV)

Trevor William Cummings (DUP)

James Edward Chandler Fletcher (UUP)

Robert Gibson (DUP)

Deborah Mary Louise Girvan (All)

Isabella Hanna (UKIP)

Margaret Jayne Howson (NI21)

John Mervyn Oswald (DUP)

Philip Geoffrey Smith (UUP)


Alison Elizabeth Blayney (Commun Partnrshp)

Mark Brotherston (NI Cons)

Steven Bernard Denny (NI21)

Robert Samuel John Gordon (TUV)

Robert Alan Graham (DUP)

Alan Leslie (DUP)

Ingrid Logan (SDLP)

Paul Andrew Roberts (Green)

Marion Smith (UUP)

Laurance Thompson (Alliance)

Scott Alfred Wilson (Alliance)