MLA welcomes DUP ‘strong team’ as poll battle looms

NORTH Down MLA Stephen Dunne has welcomed the eight DUP candidates vying for council seats in North Down.

In this area, the party will field four incumbent councillors, plus two returning familiar faces and two newcomers in next month’s election.

Entering battle for another round are Jennifer Gilmour in Bangor West and Alistair Cathcart in Bangor Central, both of whom have sat on Ards and North Down Council since the body was created eight years ago.

Making his DUP debut is councillor Carl McClean, who will be fighting to keep his Holywood and Clandeboye seat after leaving the Ulster Unionists earlier this year.

Janice MacArthur will be aiming for her first win; although she stood for Bangor East and Donaghadee in 2019’s elections, she was ultimately unsuccessful but was appointed to the council during its term to replace a departing councillor.

The man she replaced, Peter Martin, hits the comeback trail in Bangor West. He left the council several years ago to become an advisor for then Education Minister Peter Weir, but is hoping for a return to the local authority.

Also aiming for a comeback is council veteran Alan Graham, who lost his seat in 2019 and this year stands in the Holywood and Clandeboye district.

A long-term member of the old North Down Council, Mr Graham’s a former mayor who made global headlines in 2011 when he chased pop star Rihanna off his farm after finding her in a state of undress during a video shoot on his land.

Newcomers to the political scene are Dean McSorley in Bangor Central and James Cochrane in Bangor East and Donaghadee.

Both men are standing against former DUP members who left to go independent over the four years since Northern Ireland’s last council elections, with the party hoping to regain two seats it has lost.

MLA Stephen Dunne is acting as electoral agent for all eight candidates, and this week welcomed what he described as ‘a strong DUP team for May’s council election’.

“Our candidates have the skills, local knowledge and experience to deliver for the people of this great area,” he said.

“Our team has a blend of youth and experience; within the team, we have those who are seeking election for the first time and those who have many years of experience in dedicated public service. 

“We have a dynamic and dedicated group of candidates who have so much to offer, and together we can deliver more.”