Former soldier co-opted for drink-drive UUP councillor

Keith Turner narrowly failed to win a seat in May's council elections
Keith Turner narrowly failed to win a seat in May's council elections
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The Ulster Unionist Party has co-opted a former soldier on to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to replace councillor Mark McKinty, who quit his role days before he was convicted of drink-driving.

Keith Turner, who served with the Grenadier Guards and later the Royal Irish Regiment, will replace Mr McKinty as a UUP representative in the Larne Lough district electoral area.

Andy McKane will replace Derek Hussey on Derry City and Strabane District Council

Andy McKane will replace Derek Hussey on Derry City and Strabane District Council

His co-option comes just days after the party confirmed that Castlederg man Andy McKane had been selected by the party to replace Derek Hussey on Derry City and Strabane District Council after he was disqualified from being a councillor for 15 months over his three drink-driving convictions.

Mr McKane, who has worked for the NHS for 30 years and is an active trade unionist, will serve the Derg DEA.

According to the UUP, Mr Turner was born in England and served in the military, firstly the Grenadier Guards from 1987 before transferring to the Royal Irish Regiment in 2000.

He is married with one daughter, is a Glebe Warden at St Saviour’s Church and the treasurer of the 1/9 UDR, 9 R Irish Windows and Colours Committee.

Describing himself as “a keen environmentalist” Mr Turner said he will be a full-time councillor.

Mr Turner stood for the party in the Braid DEA of Mid and East Antrim in May’s council election.

He secured 800 first preference votes, but failed to meet the quota of 1,106 after receiving transfers.

Announcing his co-option on social media, Mr Turner said: “I will follow on in the tradition of all the Ulster Unionist elected representatives in working tirelessly for everyone regardless of political persuasion, creed, colour, faith or gender to make where we live the best place possible.”

Welcoming the party’s two newest representatives, Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann MLA said: “I would like to congratulate Andy McKane and Keith Turner on their co-options to serve as councillors on Derry City & Strabane and Mid & East Antrim councils respectively.

“I am confident they will both prove to be excellent public representatives and work hard to serve the people of not only the electoral areas which they will be representing, but also their entire council districts.”

Mr McKinty resigned from the party after being caught drink-driving in the Ballypollard Road area of Larne on July 5.

The 31-year-old had previously served as deputy mayor of Larne.

Mr Hussey, who was first elected as a councillor in 1989, was disqualified in July for 15 months by the Local Government Commissioner for Standards over drink driving convictions from 2004, 2011 and 2016.