Local Election 2019

DUP's first openly gay council candidate Alison Bennington elected to cheers from party colleagues

The DUP's first openly gay local election candidate Alison Bennington has been elected to Antrim and Newtownabbey council Picture Mal McCann.
Seanín Graham

THE spotlight was fixed on one media-shy candidate yesterday who made history by becoming the DUP's first openly gay candidate to be elected onto a local council.

Alison Bennington politely declined interview requests throughout yesterday's count at Lagan Valley leisure centre - even after she won her seat to represent the Glengormley area.

Her party, which is opposed to same-sex marriage and has a long history of opposition to LGBT rights, also refused to make any comment at the count centre immediately after her victory.

Over the past fortnight, some DUP veterans have criticised her selection.

However, party colleagues rushed to embrace Ms Bennington and a huge cheer erupted as the tea-time announcement came through that she had been selected on the sixth count.

Thanking her supporters in the scrum, she paid tribute to their "good hard work and good teamwork" before being whisked away by her team to the official count area - from which the media were excluded.

Another high-profile candidate who caused an internal stir following a drink-driving conviction was the DUP's Thomas Hogg.

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Mr Hogg, a former mayor, won back his council seat with an increased vote and was re-elected to the Macedon area with 999 votes.

That was almost double the 581 votes he received last time around in the 2014 poll.

The other big winner of the day in a supercouncil dominated by unionists was the Alliance Party.

Former Alliance Party leader David Ford was beaming after four of his party's five candidates romped home on the first count - with Antrim's Neil Kelly topping the poll and doubling his vote since the last election in 2014.

The former Justice minister, who described himself as a "nerd" when it came to local elections, said "wild horses wouldn't have kept him away" from his old stomping ground where he was a councillor for eight years.

He paid tribute to Mr Kelly - who was co-opted onto his seat in 2010 - as a "real worker".

Receiving 1,689 votes, Mr Kelly, who has worked as a learning disability nurse for more than 20 years at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, said he was "overwhelmed" by the result.

He is the the first non-unionist candidate to top the polls in Antrim in 42 years.

"I am passionate about the town," he said.

Elsewhere, three Sinn Féin candidates got elected without reaching the quota while two SDLP candidates were also successful.



Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

40 seats

Change since 2014:

DUP 14 (-1), UUP 9 (-3), All 7 (+3), SF 5 (+2), SDLP 4 (-), Ind 1 (+1), TUV 0 (-2)

Turnout: 53 per cent


Airport (5 seats, Quota: 1,176)

Vikki McAuley (All) 1,221

Matthew Magill (DUP) 1,164

Thomas Burns (SDLP) 1,125

Anne-Marie Logue (SF) 1,095

Paul Michael (UUP) 893

Mervyn Rea (UUP) 568

Cathy Rooney (SF) 505

Ben Mallon (DUP) 481


Vikki McAuley (All) 1st count
Matthew Magill (DUP) 3rd count
Paul Michael (UUP) 4th count
Thomas Burns (SDLP) 5th count
Anne-Marie Logue (SF) 5th count


Antrim (6 seats,  Quota: 919)

Neil Kelly (All) 1,689

John Smyth (DUP) 734

Roisin Lynch (SDLP) 723

Leah Smyth (UUP) 615

Paul Dunlop (DUP) 603

Gerard Magee (SF) 583

Jim Montgomery (UUP) 416

Karl McMeekin (DUP) 363

Adrian Cochrane-Watson (Ind) 359

Richard Cairns (TUV) 347


Neil Kelly (All) 1st count
Roisin Lynch (SDLP) 2nd count
John Smyth (DUP) 5th count
Paul Dunlop (DUP) 6th count
Leah Smyth (UUP) 7th count
Jim Montgomery (UUP) 7th count


Ballyclare (5 seats, Quota: 1,127)

Danny Kinahan (UUP) 1,253

Michael Stewart (Ind) 1,182

Mandy Girvan (DUP) 861

Gary English (All) 775

Jeannie Archibald (DUP ) 739

Vera McWilliam (UUP) 707

David Arthurs (Ind) 457

Austin Orr (DUP) 443

Norrie Ramsay (UUP) 341


Danny Kinahan (UUP) 1st count
Michael Stewart (Ind) 1st count
Mandy Girvan (DUP) 6th count
Jeannie Archibald (DUP) 6th count
Vera McWilliam (UUP) 6th count

Dunsilly (5 seats, Quota: 1,086)

Henry Cushinan (SF) 1,064

Glenn Finlay (All) 989

Linda Clarke (DUP) 965

Jordan Greer (DUP) 907

Ryan Wilson (SDLP) 902

Roderick Swann (UUP) 711

Andrew Maguire (SF) 552

Gareth Thomas (UUP) 424


Henry Cushinan (SF) 3rd count
Glenn Finlay (All) 4th count
Ryan Wilson (SDLP) 4th count
Roderick Swann (UUP) 5th count
Linda Clarke (DUP) 5th count


Glengormley Urban (7 seats, Quota 993)

Julian McGrath (All) 1,345

Phillip Brett (DUP) 1,099

Noreen McClelland (SDLP) 992

Michael Goodman (SF) 904

Mark Cosgrove (UUP) 891

Alison Bennington (DUP) 856

Rosie Kinnear (SF) 801

Samantha Burns (DUP) 373

Paul Veronica (Green) 341

Michael Maguire (UUP) 337


Julian McGrath (All) 1st count
Phillip Brett (DUP) 1st count
Noreen McClelland (SDLP) 2nd count
Mark Cosgrove (UUP) 5th count
Alison Bennington (DUP) 6th count
Michael Goodman (SF) 7th count
Rosie Kinnear (SF) 7th count


Macedon (6 seats, Quota 895)

Billy Webb (All) 1,127

Paul Hamill (DUP) 1,043

Thomas Hogg (DUP) 999

Robert Foster (UUP) 956

Taylor McGrann (SF) 765

Stafford Ward (Ind) 343

Victor Robinson (DUP) 327

Dean McCullough (DUP) 321

David Hollis (TUV) 223

Robert Hill (Ukip) 154


Billy Webb (All) 1st count
Paul Hamill (DUP) 1st count
Thomas Hogg (DUP) 1st count
Robert Foster (UUP) 1st count
Dean McCullough (DUP) 7th count
Taylor McGrann (SF) 7th count


Three Mile Water (6 seats, Quota 1,006)

Mark Cooper (DUP) 1,230

Stephen Ross (DUP) 1,103

Fraser Agnew (UUP) 1,100

Tom Campbell (All) 1,075

Julie Gilmour (All) 749

Stephen McCarthy (UUP) 514

Sam Flanagan (DUP) 489

Raymond Stewart (Ukip) 319

Norman Boyd (TUV) 234

Gary Grattan (Ind) 223


Fraser Agnew (UUP) 1st count
Tom Campbell (All) 1st count
Mark Cooper (DUP) 1st count
Stephen Ross (DUP) 1st count
Sam Flanagan (DUP) 7th count
Julie Gilmour (All) 7th count

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