Local Election 2019

Constituency Notebook: Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

The sprawling metropolis of Lisburn and Castlereagh City. Picture by Mal McCann

WHAT do you get if you cross an erstwhile DUP citadel with a second equally-unionist stronghold?

Twinning the Robinson fiefdom of Castlereagh with Lisburn created a unionist powerhouse so commanding, it would be difficult to comprehend if it was not just a council.

Anyone lacking a red,white and blue rosette has been reduced to a bit-part - and even some of those with said fabric decorations enjoy little more than a walk-on role.

Just 10 of the outgoing members of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council are non-unionist. Half of the 40 are in the DUP.

When all the ballot papers are counted, the DUP will have an impressive majority - the only question is `how impressive?'

It has fielded 23 candidates - almost double that of any other party - so appears supremely confident. And it should be.

The total of 23 is also the highest number of candidates fielded by the party in any one constituency.

It is fewer than 2014, suggesting the DUP is running a more targeted election.

The area benefits from its strategic location on two key transport corridors; the North-South economic corridor and East-West transport corridor. It is among the most popular places to live in the north, has high-achieving primary and post-primary schools, a variety of house choices, retail and leisure facilities, beautiful countryside and open spaces.

A key aim of the council is the continued growth of the area economically, environmentally and socially. Councillors will be expected to help sustain a living and working countryside and protect environmentally sensitive areas.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing and construction are the biggest sectors.

In a constituency that serves a two-thirds Protestant population, most other parties are realistic about their chance of success, fielding small numbers of candidates.

The UUP was once the dominant force in Lisburn, until it suffered from the Jeffrey effect and saw the DUP surpass it in 2005.

It has a dozen candidates this time, trying to protect nine seats - and a few of them are likely to get back. It also has three more candidates than the last local poll, suggesting it too is confident.

Among them is Nicholas Trimble, who was crunching numbers in 2014, was co-opted in 2016 and now finds himself contesting Lisburn North. His mother Daphne's name appears on his nomination papers, although his former UUP leader father David's does not.

Alliance is the third largest party with five seats. It used to be seven but Geraldine Rice and Vasundhara Kamble both quit the party amid allegations of racism and ageism - which were denied by leader Naomi Long.

Those two are running as an independent and for the DUP respectively, so might damage their former party's vote. They even signed each other's nomination papers.

Alliance may benefit, however, from the fact that the short-lived NI21 is not fielding candidates.

Moving areas including Poleglass and Twinbrook out of the old Lisburn and into Belfast, effectively reduced nationalist parties to also-rans in the new LCCC.

The SDLP fared a good bit better than Sinn Féin in 2014 and it has this time put forward seven candidates.

While it returned three councillors last time, it later gained a fourth when Johnny McCarthy left NI21. He is seeking election again with his new party.

Councillor Máiría Cahill cannot defend her seat, however, due to an administrative issue. She said she was unwilling to make public her home address, due to a restraining order protecting her from an individual.

This is one of just two councils that does not have a single Sinn Féin member.

The party will hope Ms Cahill's absence this time in Killultagh will benefit its candidate. Sinn Féin received more first preference votes here than the SDLP in 2014 but lost out to transfers.

It will also be expectant in the relatively `mixed' Castlereagh South, where all the non-unionist candidates will be falling over one another to win a seat - three went to parties without a `UP' in their name previously.

Its hope here is Ryan Carlin who will want to build on the showing of Nuala Toman who was sixth on first preferences in 2014, but missed out.

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CANDIDATES:

Castlereagh East (six seats)

David Drysdale (DUP)

Andrew Girvin (TUV)

Martin Gregg (All)

Tommy Jeffers (DUP)

John Laverty (DUP)

Hazel Legge (UUP)

Tim Morrow (All)

Sharon Skillen (DUP)

Castlereagh South (seven seats)

Nathan Anderson (DUP)

Ryan Carlin (SF)

Sorcha Eastwood (All)

Jason Elliott (DUP)

John Gallen (SDLP)

Nicola Girvin (TUV)

Michelle Guy (All)

Michael Henderson (UUP)

Vasundhara Kamble (DUP)

Simon Lee (Green)

Rachael McCarthy (SDLP)

Geraldine Rice (Ind)

Downshire East (five seats)

James Baird (UUP)

Owen Beckett (SDLP)

Andrew Gowan (DUP)

Janet Gray (DUP)

Uel Mackin (DUP)

Aaron McIntyre (All)

Alex Swan (UUP)

Downshire West (five seats)

Morgan Crone (SDLP)

Vince Curry (DUP)

Jim Dillon (UUP)

Allan Ewart (DUP)

Owen Gawith (All)

Neil Johnston (Con)

Caleb McCready (DUP)

John Palmer (UUP)

Luke Robinson (Green)

Killultagh (five seats)

Thomas Beckett (DUP)

Stuart Brown (Ind)

Ally Haydock (SDLP)

David Honeyford (All)

William Leathem (DUP)

Gary McCleave (SF)

Ross McLernon (UUP)

Alexander Redpath (UUP)

James Tinsley (DUP)

Lisburn North (six seats)

Scott Carson (DUP)

Jonathan Craig (DUP)

Joe Duffy (SF)

Stuart Hughes (UUP)

Gary Hynds (Con)

Alan Love (UKIP)

Stephen Martin (All)

Johnny McCarthy (SDLP)

Lindsay Reynolds (DUP)

Nicholas Trimble (UUP)

Lisburn South (six seats)

Alison Chittick (TUV)

Brendan Corr (SDLP)

Andrew Ewing (DUP)

Alan Givan (DUP)

Amanda Grehen (All)

Helen Love (UKIP)

Tim Mitchell (UUP)

Jonny Orr (Ind)

Jenny Palmer (UUP)

Paul Porter (DUP)

Ricky Taylor (Democrats and Veterans Party)

Rhoda Walker (DUP)

Party share 2014:

DUP 40.4 per cent

UUP 16.0

All 12.0

SDLP 8.0

NI21 6.9

TUV 5.9

Others 5.9

SF 4.7

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