Belfast Telegraph

Parties begin shareout of key posts in the new bodies

By Noel McAdam

Northern Ireland's new super councils are holding their first meetings – 10 months before they actually exert any power.

The new Belfast authority, the merged Derry and Strabane districts, and North Down and Ards are among those holding inaugural sessions today. Others will meet tomorrow.

Among their first tasks is to appoint chairs and deputy chairs , to be called Presiding Councillors.

The meetings will also begin the process of appointing senior staff, putting their business and financial plans in place and setting rates for the financial year of 2015/16.

Stormont Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, whose portfolio includes local government, believes the new councils will hit the ground running next April.

"So much has been achieved to date and we are now sitting in a strong position, with key legislation in place and the new councils elected and starting to meet."

On the new Antrim and Newtownabbey authority, the DUP and Ulster Unionists hold 27 of the 40 seats, and TUV a further two, while the SDLP and Sinn Fein hold seven.

On Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council, the DUP and UUP have 25 seats, with the SDLP and Sinn Fein holding 14.

Belfast remains the most hung council with Sinn Fein on 19 seats, the DUP and UUP holding 20 between them, the SDLP seven and Alliance consolidating its grip on the balance of power with eight seats.

On the Causeway Coast and Glens authority, the DUP and UUP occupy 21 of the 40 seats and TUV a further three, while SF and the SDLP muster 13 between them.

Derry City and Strabane is strongly nationalist-controlled with Sinn Fein holding 16 of the seats, the SDLP 10 and the DUP and UUP sharing 10 between them.

Fermanagh and Omagh Council is also firmly nationalist-controlled, with SF holding 17 seats, the SDLP eight and the DUP and UUP occupying 14.

At the opposite end of the country, Lisburn and Castlereagh is solidly in unionist control, with the DUP holding half the seats, the UUP a further eight and no Sinn Fein representation. The SDLP has three seats and Alliance seven.

Mid and East Antrim is also firmly under unionist domination, with the DUP and UUP holding 25 seats and a further five belonging to Jim Allister's TUV, Sinn Fein holding three seats and the SDLP has one.

Mid-Ulster is decisively in nationalist hands, with Sinn Fein holding 18 of the 40 seats, the SDLP on six, and the DUP and UUP totalling 15 between them.

Newry, Mourne and Down is also under nationalist control, with Sinn Fein and the SDLP holding 28 of the 40 seats – 14 apiece – and the DUP and UUP on just seven between them.

North Down and Ards is under solid unionist control, with the DUP and UUP holding 26 of the 40 seats and Alliance on seven. There are no Sinn Fein councillors and only one SDLP representative.

Belfast Telegraph


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