Shock as John McCluskey steps down from Fermanagh and Omagh council

 Independent Councillor John McCluskey who lives just yards from the Fermanagh border.
Tanya Fowles

Members of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have expressed shock at the decision of John McCluskey to step down as a councillor for Erne North, after less that a year in post.

With this effective at once, Councillor McCluskey’s seat was empty at the main meeting, and will remain so until his replacement is announced, which is currently being addressed by the Electoral Office.

Chief Executive Alison McCullagh confirmed Councillor John McCuskey had issued his intent to resign with effect from 3 March.

By way of replacement, as part of the process for those who sit as indendendent members, Mc McCullagh explained the resigning person submits six names to the Electoral Office, who in turn contact the first named person to ask if they will take the seat.

If the decline, this moves to the second person, the third and so forth.

If, on reaching the sixth person none are willing to accept the seat, a bi-election will be called.

Tributes were led by Council Chair Councillor Siobhan Currie who said: “On behalf of all, we wish him well for the future.”

Independent Councillor Josephine Deehan stated: “It was with sadness I heard of this. I found Councillor McCluskey to be a positive influence and I very genuine man. I wish him well on his retirement.”

This was followed by Councillor Sheamus Greene of Sinn Fein who said: “He came on to the council with great expectations and it’s a very frustrating place. Maybe people think we have more power than we have. John realised it’s not that easy to deliver the things you promise at election.”

Independent Councillor Donal O’Cofaig added his voice stating, “It is with regret Councillor McCluskey has decided to move on. He received a resounding endorsement by the electorate. He is a gentleman who has shown tenacity and commitment and he will continue in that role as an activist.”

Speaking on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party, Councillor Victor Warrington described Councillor McCluskey as: “Passionate about what he stood for around (Rosslea) GP Surgery. He was probably a bit daunted and thought councillors had more sway.”

While Councillor Bernie Swift, Independent echoed the sentiments, she reminded members, “I know his retirement wouldn’t be the end of the road and at least he is alive and well.”

On behalf of the Democratic Unionists, Councillor Errol Thompson commented, “We wish him all the best. He came in here and thought we all had more power. It is not the case … Any dealings I had with him; he was a gentleman.”

Independent Councillor Emmet McAleer was “surprised and saddened” to learn of Councillor McCluskey’s resignation.

“He is a committed, community activist and a great representative for Roslea. No doubt whoever replaces him was do as good a job.”

It’s not clear when a replacement will be announced but Ms McCullough advised she would keep members appraised of developments.

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