Political news

SDLP councillor Joe Boyle makes fifth attempt for Assembly seat in Strangford

SDLP councillor Joe Boyle is to make his fifth attempt at becoming an MLA in Strangford. Picture by Bill Smyth
John Monaghan

AN SDLP councillor is to make his fifth attempt at becoming an MLA in a constituency which has never elected a nationalist to the assembly.

Joe Boyle, who is the only nationalist councillor out of 40 elected representatives on Ards and North Down Borough Council, has stood unsuccessfully in Strangford since 2003.

DUP ministers Simon Hamilton and Michelle McIlveen and former minster Jonathan Bell - currently suspended from the DUP - all represent the constituency, as does Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt.

Mr Boyle, whose brother Declan is also an SDLP councillor in Belfast, was pipped at the post by the UUP's Philip Smith last May, and came within 31 votes of being elected to Stormont in 2007.

The constituency will return only five MLAs this time round due to a reduction in the size of the assembly.

Mr Boyle told The Irish News: "I have put a lot of thought into it and spoke to a lot of people. This is a different election - there is a sense of anger attached to it.

"There is a feeling that people haven't seen delivery on anything. The Strangford area is amongst the lowest in terms of investment from Invest NI."

Meanwhile, DUP East Belfast MLA Sammy Douglas has announced he will not be standing for re-election after almost six years in the assembly.

His party colleague, East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross, also announced last night he will not stand for re-election.

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Political news