Belfast Telegraph

Local Election 2019

18 former MLAs and MPs bid to win council seats

Fred Cobain
Fred Cobain
Eamonn McCann
Michaela Boyle
Philip Smith
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Two former MPs and 16 ex-MLAs are attempting a political comeback by standing in next week's council elections.

The former elected representatives are running for six Northern Ireland political parties.

Alliance is the only main party not standing a former MLA as it has never lost an Assembly seat.

The desire by so many former Stormont politicians to run in the poll is unsurprising given the greater powers transferred to our 11 new councils in 2015.

The suspension of the Assembly also makes a position in local government more attractive to some who might otherwise hope to win back their old seats at the next election.

Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan, who lost his Westminster seat in 2017 to the DUP's Paul Girvan, is hoping to be elected to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

The former MP said he had found it "very odd not having any role in politics".

He added: "It's been frustration and I want to get back stuck in again and help people."

Harold McKee, Philip Smith, and Jenny Palmer lost their South Down, Strangford and Lagan Valley seats respectively in the 2017 Assembly election.

The three ex-UUP MLAs are hoping to be elected to local government next week.

Former Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff is one of three candidates from the party in the Omagh Town ward of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

He resigned last year following outrage after he posted a video of himself with a Kingsmill loaf on his head on the anniversary of the massacre. Ten Protestant workers were shot dead by the IRA in south Armagh in 1976.

Mr McElduff apologised to victims hurt by his actions and insisted he had made no link between the date and the loaf brand.

Mr McElduff said he was encouraged to return by local grassroots party activists. Four former Sinn Fein MLAs are hoping to get elected - Oliver McMullan, Ian Milne, Willie Clarke and Catherine Nelson.

Sitting Sinn Fein West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle is also running, so a co-option to the Assembly will follow if she is elected to Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Former SDLP South Down MLA Karen McKevitt, who lost her seat in 2017, is running for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

In 2016 veteran civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann was elected as a People Before Profit MLA in Foyle. He lost his seat in the Assembly election the following year. He is standing in the Moor ward of Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Five ex-MLAs are running for the DUP in next month's poll. Ian McCrea, Sydney Anderson, Adrian McQuillan and Stephen Moutray all were elected representatives at Stormont.

The party is also running former UUP MLA Fred Cobain in the Castle ward of north Belfast.

Former Northern Ireland Unionist Party MLA Norman Boyd is a TUV candidate in Antrim and Newtownabbey District Council.

He was elected to Stormont in 1998 for Bob McCartney's UK Unionist Party.

But he was then one of four MLAs who broke away months later to form the new political group.

They all lost their seats in the 2003 Stormont election.

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