TUV result ‘sends out a clear message to rest of the country’

TUV Candidate Timothy Gaston is congratulated by party leader Jim Allister after topping the polls in the Bannside area.
TUV Candidate Timothy Gaston is congratulated by party leader Jim Allister after topping the polls in the Bannside area.

UUP Mayor of Larne Maureen Morrow could not hide her delight at topping the poll in the Coast Road DEA in Mid and East Antrim, citing it as “historic”.

The total turnout for Mid and East Antrim DEA was 47.9 per cent for the local council election and 47.8 per cent for European election.

Immediately after hearing of her success of 947 first preference votes, she told the News Letter: “I just found out that I am the first person elected into the new supercouncil and I am delighted.

“It is marvellous and I never really expected it. I walked quite a number of streets in Larne – and it is not the easiest to walk – so I have been up hill and down dale.

“Five councillors will be elected in the Coast Road area I stand in.”

Mrs Morrow, a 51-year-old grandmother, said she “wanted to say thank you to everyone who has assisted me and supported me in the past few months and to everyone who voted for ne, thank you so much”.

Topping the poll in Bannside DEA was TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston, with 1,212 votes.

Mr Gaston, son of long-standing DUP-turned-TUV-councillor Sammy Gaston, said he believed his result in Bannside “sends out a very clear message”.

“In a stronghold for the DUP traditionally, a TUV man has topped the poll,” he said.

He extended his thanks to former TUV councillor Roy Gillespie, who retired this year.

“This sends a signal to the rest of the country. Look where the DUP started and where the TUV started. Bannside has spoken, now it is up to the rest of the country,” added Mr Gaston.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the party “had had a magnificent start in Bannside, which of course is the stronghold and the heartland of the DUP in north Antrim and yet it was TUV that topped the poll”.

Last night, TUV’s Stewart McDonald, the DUP’s Billy Henry and UUP’s William McNeilly in Bannside DEA were also elected.

Mr Allister added: “We will see two elected tomorrow in Ballymena and the Braid and I would anticipate more in Larne and Carrickfergus.

“We have made a very good start in Mid and East Antrim. I think the people have spoken in a significant way. The DUP anticipated they would have a majority on Mid and East Antrim DEA but they will not because of the success of the TUV and other unionists in this election. I now look forward to what emerges next week in the European election.”

Sinn Fein councillor Patrice Hardy was elected in Bannside DEA on the second count.

DUP stalwart Tommy Nicholl was elected in Bannside DEA on the fourth count.

Mr Nicholl, 68, who has served 33 years on Ballymena Council, told the News Letter: “Words can never describe how I feel at this moment in time. It has been a long day and everything is drained out of your system, but I am delighted to be returned for the ninth time.

“I wasn’t going to go and take my money, I was never in this for money and that didn’t come into the equation. I wanted to serve my people and that is the deciding factor.”

Later, UKIP’s Noel Jordan, Independent Jim Browne and the DUP’s Billy Ashe were elected in Carrick Castle DEA.

Mr Jordan later admitted to the News Letter he was “a little shocked at being voted in ... but I am absolutely delighted to be able to represent the people of my town of Carrickfergus”.