Outgoing Ulster Unionist mayor Lindsay Millar loses seat as UUP feels force of Alliance surge

Sunday, 5th May 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 5th May 2019, 5:03 pm
Outgoing Ulster Unionist mayor Lindsay Millar lost her seat in a shock result

At the end of the last council term there were 29 councillors from unionist parties on the local authority, but as counting concluded on Saturday, this number had dropped to 27.

For the DUP and TUV it was a case of holding on to what they already had with 15 seats and five seats respectively. However, the UUP, which fielded 12 candidates after securing nine seats in the first super council, dropped to seven seats.

Naomi Long’s Alliance, which had secured three elected members in the 2014 contest, increased its representation to seven. Having fielded eight candidates across the borough’s seven district electoral areas, the party topped the polls in Carrick Castle, Coast Road and Knockagh.

Although the overall make-up of the council is still strongly unionist, a number of sitting councillors failed to secure seats. One casualty was veteran Carrick councillor May Beattie, who was not returned after switching from the DUP to TUV.

The council’s mayor for 2018/19, Lindsay Millar (UUP) also failed to be re-elected. Thanking everyone who voted for her, Ms Millar said: “Every election has casualties, and today it was me. Thank you to everyone who voted for me, but it wasn’t to be.”

There was uncertainty ahead of the poll as to how the nationalist representation would work out. In the end, it was very much a carbon copy of the previous council term.

With long-serving SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan stepping down, and the party only fielding one candidate, there was a possibility it could have ended with no councillors.

However, Eugene Reid, who had been Mr O’Loan’s running mate in the Ballymena DEA in 2014, secured 848 first preference votes, before gaining transfers to meet the quota of 870.

Sinn Fein had secured two councillors following the formation of the super council and hoped to build on this, fielding an additional two candidates. Although SF again won two seats, party insiders will be disappointed not to see Patrice Hardy, who had sat in the Bannside DEA, win a seat in Ballymena following a strategic switch.

Her Bannside replacement, Ian Friary, again took a seat for the party, although he needed transfers to make the quota of 1,154.

The electorate also showed its support for independent candidates with three being voted in across the borough.

Overall turnout was 48.15 per cent, down slightly from 48.9 per cent in 2014. Overall, 24 incumbent representatives were re-elected, nine failed to be returned and 16 new faces will enter the chamber.