Councillors dispute South Antrim MLA vacancy

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An Ulster Unionist selection meeting to replace Danny Kinahan as South Antrim MLA has narrowed the choice down to two Antrim councillors.

The South Antrim association met on Wednesday night and voted to exclude three candidates from the race – Newtownabbey councillor Ben Kelso, Richard Kennedy and Jack Irwin.

Around 80 people attended the selection meeting.

The decision means that Antrim councillors Paul Michael and Adrian Watson will go forward to the party officers who will meet next Tuesday to decide on who should replace Mr Kinahan.

Meanwhile, Fermanagh-South Tyrone will hold a selection meeting next Monday and submit names to the party officers’ meeting on Tuesday.

Four people – Neil Somerville, Robert Irvine, Kenny Donaldson and Rosemary Barton – have put forward their names as potential replacements for Tom Elliott.

Mr Elliott and Mr Kinahan are quitting Stormont voluntarily ahead of double-jobbing being banned next year.