A ‘jovial mood’ at farewell for Coleraine Borough Council

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There was a jovial mood at Cloonavin last Tuesday night as members met for the final time as Coleraine Borough Council.

The meeting, to ratify the minutes of previous meetings last just over an hour.

Chair, outgoing Mayor of Coleraine, DUP councillor George Duddy asked one member of each party to speak.

The DUP was represented by Alderman William Creelman, who has served on Council for 34 years.

Reflecting on his time, he said: “I wonder where the time has gone. I was asked to stand back in 1981 by James McClure, and the rest they say is history.”

Paying tribute to the former DUP President, he added: “James was the longest serving member of Council, it’s unfortunate he’s not here. He is greatly missed by his party.”

Ulster Unionist councillor Norman Hillis described the meeting as ‘the end of an era’, and said that it was a ‘time for reflection’.

He added: “I’ve been here through good times and bad, but I think we have emerged as a better Council, and we have a better understanding of our differences.”

Independent councillor David Harding remembered former Ulster Unionist councillor Liz Johnston and added: “It is fitting that we remember those who served this council with energy and passion,” he said.

Claire Sugden, another Independent member, told the Chamber that it had been a ‘priviledge’ for her serve the people of the Borough of Coleraine’. She paid tribute to David McClarty and to Alderman James McClure in her remarks.

Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Archibald, who was not re-elected to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, reflected on his four years in office saying he enjoyed his time serving the people.

SDLP Alderman Maura Hickey looked back on her nine years as a councillor, saying it is a ‘priviledge and honour’ to work for all citizens of the Borough.

She said had had ‘many battles’ in the Chamber and that there had been many changes, all she felt were ‘for the better’.

She paid tribute to Gerry McLaughlin, who was present at the meeting, and John Dallat.

In a freudian slip the SDLP Alderman described the SDLP MLA has being the ‘first Unionist Mayor of Coleraine’ - much to the delight of her colleagues.

Independent councillor Christine Alexander was not present at the meeting, but Alderman Hickey paid tribute to the Portrush councillor.

Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick wished those members not moving into the new council a ‘happy retirement’.