Kieran McCarthy: Surprise at Alliance veteran’s planned electoral comeback, but old colleagues wish him luck

Kieran McCarthy. Pic by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye
Kieran McCarthy. Pic by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye

Ex-Alliance chief whip Kieran McCarthy, who is planning to take on his old party in May’s local government election, has been wished well by former party colleagues, including the woman he is standing against.

The 76-year-old Kircubbin man, who served Alliance as a councillor and MLA for three decades, revealed that he will stand against the party’s chosen candidate in the Ards Peninsula DEA in a bid to win a seat on Ards and North Down Borough Council, with the aim of tackling a number of environmental issues in his local area.

The woman who succeeded him in the NI Assembly, Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong, said she was “a bit surprised” by his decision to run for election, but wished him the best of luck.

“It’s surprising given that he served for so long that he wants to get back into the fray again, but there is no argument between him and ourselves. He has a few issues he wants to see addressed going forward.

“It’s another liberal person putting their hat in the ring. It’s a pity he’s not doing it with the party, but good luck to him,” she said.

Ms Armstrong, who credits Mr McCarthy with having helped get her into politics, said she wouldn’t rule out him returning to the party he was involved with for so long, until his membership lapsed last year.

“If Kieran wanted to come back into the Alliance Party, my goodness, why would we ever refuse him that? But this is his decision and the way he wants to go at this stage,” she added.

An Alliance spokesperson confirmed that sitting councillor Lorna McAlpine has been selected by the party to defend her seat in the Ards Peninsula DEA.

Cllr McAlpine, who has known Mr McCarthy for many years and canvassed for him in past elections, said she “wished him well in every way”.

The Alliance Party spokesperson added: “Kieran has always been very supportive of the hard working team who replaced him on his retirement from politics and shared and supported their vision both for the council and Assembly constituencies.

“As a party, we are focused on ensuring that the strongest possible Alliance team is returned in the May local government elections to continue that work.”

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