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Who will get your vote?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Who will get your vote? thumbnailALL 18 Sinn Fein candidates for the Newry Mourne and Down Council election pictured with MLAs Megan Fearon, Mickey Brady and Chris Hazzard, MP Conor Murphy and MEP Martina Anderson.

VOTERS will go to the polls next month to vote to pick their councillors for the Newry, Mourne and Down Super Council, which will come into effect next year.
And with new boundaries, fewer seats, retired politicians and fresh faces, it could all get a bit confusing. Add to that the fact that there are just 26 seats up for grabs as to the previous 30, and four wards instead of the previous five, although the Mourne ward now has seven seats as opposed to the previous five. Brian Hyland looks at which parties and candidates have out their names forward to date and which candidates have yet to, if at all, thrown their names in the hat.
NEWRY
OVER recent years there have been seven seats up for grabs in the Newry ward, but with only six seats available now due to the introduction of the Super Council incorporating Down District Council, it could be quite a scramble. Firstly, independent councillor Jackie Patterson will, for the first time in almost 20 years, not be contesting the election. Given that he attracted over 750 first preference votes in 2011 and over 1,000 in the three previous council election, there could be quite a few votes now up for grabs for the other candidates, which could play into the hands of current independent councillor and candidate, Davy Hyland, who received over 1,000 votes in 2011 to be elected on the first count.
Sinn Fein, however, have dominated local government elections in recent years and will be looking to continue this time around. Former Mayor Charlie Casey topped the Newry poll in 2011 with 1,280 votes - smashing the quota of 948. He will be running again next month, along with current councillor Valerie Harte and recently installed councillor Liz Kimmons, who is one of six new Sinn Fein councillors following a dramatic co-op in January. One person that will not be standing for Sinn Fein is the party's longest ever running councillor, Brendan Curran. Mr Curran, who became the district's first Sinn Fein chairman in 1998, quit the party in November last year after citing "serious fractures" within the local branch.
The SDLP sees councillors Frank Feely and John McArdle step down and the party are, perhaps surprisingly, running four candidates next month; former councillor Gary Stokes, who narrowly missed out on being re-elected in 2011, along with Peter McEvoy, Kevin McAteer and Jacinta Duffy.
SLIEVE GULLION
IN previous years south Armagh included the Slieve Gullion and The Fews wards, but the Super Council shake-up sees the Fews Ward scrapped and its areas - Camlough and Bessbrook - become part of the Slieve Gullion ward.
This means that there are now just seven seats available instead of the previous 11 when there were two wards.
As a result of January's co-op, Sinn Fein will be running long-tern councillor Terry Hearty alongside recently introduced councillors Daire Hughes, Mickey Larkin, Barry Murray and Roisin Mulgrew, who are replacing Colman Burns, Pat McGinn, Turlough Murphy, Anthony Flynn, Packie McDonald and Jimmy McCreesh.
Last time out Geraldine Donnelly topped the Slieve Gullion poll with almost 1,700 first preference votes and she will be running again, as will veteran councillor John Feehan from Bessbrook.
2011 was a successful election for the Ulster Unionists. With Danny Kennedy leaving council to take up a Stormont ministerial role, Andy Moffett and David Taylor both ran for the UUP and both were successfully elected.
Mr Moffett however is not seeking re-election which leaves the door firmly open for the current Deputy Mayor, David Taylor, to take his place on the new super council, which means, with the SDLP candidates also likely to be re-elected after receiving over 1,000 first preference votes last time round, it could be one of the five Sinn Fein candidates to lose out on a seat at Monaghan Row.
CROTLIEVE
BOTH the SDLP and Sinn Fein gained an extra seat in Crotlieve in 2011 - but this year there is one less seat available with six candidates making on to council rather than seven in 2011.
Sinn Fein are looking to hold on to their three seats with candidates, current Mayor Mickey Ruane, Mark Gibbons and Sinead Ennis, while current councillors Michael Carr, Declan McAteer and Connaire McGreevey hoping to be elected along with newcomer Gillian Fitzpatrick.
MOURNE
THIS constituency sees the biggest shake-up of the new Super Council with seven seats available as opposed to five last time round, this due to an increase in the number of areas included with Tollymore, Donard and Murlough as new additions.
In 2011 former Ulster Unionist Henry Reilly was the runaway winner on a Ukip ticket and he'll be hoping for the same again, while also running for the party in the European election.
SDLP councillor Brian Quinn is a candidate and is joined by Laura Devlin - the party only secured one council seat last time round but with two additional seats up for grabs, they may fancy their chances.
As will Sinn Fein. Sean Doran was elected on the first count three years ago and is running alongside party colleague Willie Clarke.
DUP veteran Willie Burns is retiring from politics and in his place is Kilkeel man and former politician Glyn Hanna - and he should secure a DUP return to council from the Mournes.
Ulster Unionist Harold McKee is looking to be re-elected, and so is his party colleague Jill Macauley.

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