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DUP shocked as councillor announces he's quitting

By Claire McNeilly

Published 23/09/2016

DUP councillor Brian Kennedy
DUP councillor Brian Kennedy

DUP councillor Brian Kennedy is to step down from Belfast City Council at the end of next month, it can be revealed.

In a move understood to have shocked the party, Mr Kennedy, who represents the Titanic ward, confirmed that he was standing down on October 31.

The 53-year-old, who replaced east Belfast MP Gavin Robinson, told the Belfast Telegraph he was relinquishing his seat in order to concentrate on family and business matters.

It is not yet clear who among his DUP colleagues will take his seat at City Hall, although his replacement will be co-opted and a range of names must be submitted in advance.

The unmarried part-time charity worker said he would nevertheless continue to represent and serve his party from the sidelines.

"I have a lot of other professional and personal commitments and I just decided at this stage, two-and-a-half years out from an election, that it would be much fairer on both my colleagues and the party if I could step back and let somebody else assume the mantle," the councillor added.

"It was a decision I had to think long and hard about it. Some people suggested that I could just have stayed on without doing a great deal, but integrity-wise I just wouldn't do that.

"Basically, I decided that I would step back. I'll still be involved party-wise, but I think it's much fairer to give someone an opportunity to try and take the party constituents forward.

"I'm very much of the mind that if I can't do something to the standard I would like to do it to, I would rather step back."

Mr Kennedy - who has been at City Hall for two-and-a-half years after being firstly co-opted for Robin Newton and then Mr Robinson - stressed that he was not leaving the DUP, and was just stepping down from the council.

"What I really wanted to do was to give sufficient space for the party to sort out what they were going to do in terms of replacement," he said.

"The reason I chose October 31 was because it gives whoever is coming in a couple of months before Christmas to get their feet under the table and find their way around City Hall, and then they'll have a good two-and-a-half year run before they head up to election time."

Mr Kennedy also denied that he was ill. "Everything is fine, but time's short and with the council meetings tending to take place at tea-time and early evenings, you almost need to be working full-time," he added.

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