Northern Ireland news

Constituency Notebook: DUP expected to maintain majority grip in Ards and North Down

Scrabo Tower, Newtownards – one of the wards within Ards and North Down council
Marie Louise McConville

LITTLE is expected to change in the overall make-up of Ards and North Down council this time round, with the DUP once again expected to have the most councillors.

In total 68 candidates are running for the 40 available seats. Just 15 are female.

The DUP has 19 candidates, the UUP has 12, Alliance 10, seven for the Greens, five for the Conservatives, three for UKIP, two for Sinn Féin, one for the SDLP and one for TUV. There are also eight independent candidates running.

Of those hoping for a seat, 36 have previously served on the council, but there are some changes on the ballot paper.

These include Tom Smith, a former DUP representative on the council who last year broke ranks with the party and supported the LGBT community.

Mr Smith provoked controversy within the DUP when he voted in favour of a motion to light up Ards Town Hall in rainbow colours to mark LGBT Awareness Week.

Mr Smith later resigned for the party having said he would not be a "nodding dog" for the DUP.

He is on the ballot paper as an independent running in Bangor East and Donaghadee.

There had been suggestions that a familiar face would be returning to the council in this election.

Ex-Alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy, who served on the defunct Ards Borough Council for 28 years, had hoped to run as an independent candidate, but this was ruled out because of severance pay he had received upon retiring as a councillor in 2013.

The seven electoral wards within Ards and North Down council have a combined population of around 160,000, of which 48.5 per cent are male and 51.5 per cent are female.

The area has just over 30,000 children aged 0-15 while most residents (54,000) are aged 40-64.

Just over 75 per cent of the population identify as Protestant while 13 per cent are Catholic.

In 2014, the DUP won 17 seats having topped the polls in all seven DEAs (District Electoral Areas).

Five years on, the party is hoping to replicate their success.

Last time, the party also managed to win a third seat in Bangor East and Donaghadee.

The UUP also performed well, gaining two seats in Newtownards and increasing its number from seven councillors to nine, while the Green Party also increased its presence from one councillor to three.

While canvassing on the doorsteps, those hoping to win a seat have found themselves faced with a diverse range of issues raised by voters, ranging from regenerating Bangor town centre to voter frustration over the continued deadlock at Stormont.

There have also been many front door discussions about the long-running Brexit saga, with some long-standing DUP voters revealing their intention to abstain due to the party's stance on Brexit.

Others issues include economic development and job creation.

However, the DUP is expected to continue its reign of Ards and North Down council, but how big their majority will be in the shadow of the Brexit debate remains to be seen.


:: Party share

DUP - 35%

UUP - 17%

All - 13%

TUV - 5%

GP - 4%

SDLP - 4%

Ind - 10%

Others - 12%

*Based on total votes cast in North Down and Ards council areas in 2014


:: Candidates

Ards Peninsula (six seats):

Robert Adair (DUP)

Joe Boyle (SDLP)

Anugus Carson (UUP)

Matt Davey (UKIP)

Nigel Edmund (DUP)

Lorna McAlpine (All)

Murdoch McKibben (SF)

Tim Mullen (Con)

Michele Strong (GP)

Eddie Thompson (DUP)

Bangor Central (six seats):

Craig Blaney (UUP)

Alistair Cathcart (DUP)

James Cochrane (DUP)

Karen Douglas (All)

Stephen Dunlop (GP)

Ian Henry (UUP)

Wesley Irvine (DUP)

Maria Lourenco (Ind)

Ray McKimm (Ind)

John Montgomery (UKIP)

Gavan Reynolds (Ind)

Noelle Robinson (Ind)

Frank Shivers (Con)

Bangor East and Donaghadee (six seats):

Mark Brooks (UUP)

David Chambers (UUP)

Bill Keery (DUP)

Paul Leeman (Con)

Janice Macarthur (DUP)

Hannah McNamara (GP)

Peter Martin (DUP)

Tom Smith (Ind)

Gavan Walker (All)

Bangor West (five seats):

Connie Egan (All)

Ben English (Con)

Jennifer Gilmour (DUP)

Alan Graham (DUP)

Barry McKee (GP)

Kieran Maxwell (SF)

Marion Smith (UUP)

Scott Wilson (All)

Comber (five seats):

Ricky Bamford (GP)

Stephen Cooper (TUV)

Trevor Cummings (DUP)

Robert Gibson (DUP)

Deborah Girvan (All)

John Montgomery (DUP)

Michael Palmer (UUP)

John Sloan (Ind)

Philip Smith (UUP)

Holywood and Clandeboye (five seats):

Roberta Dunlop (DUP)

Stephen Dunne (DUP)

Gillian Greer (All)

Tim Lemon (UUP)

Carl McClean (UUP)

Andrew Muir (All)

Andrew Turner (Con)

Rachel Woods (GP)

Newtownards (seven seats):

Naomi Armstrong (DUP)

Paul Corry (UKIP)

Ian Dickson (UUP)

Colin Kennedy (DUP)

Ben King (Ind)

Maurice Mccartney (GP)

Alan McDowell (All)

Stephen McIlveen (DUP)

Nick Mathison (All)

Jimmy Menagh (Ind)

Richard Smart (UUP)

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