The DUP is running four candidates across three Newry Mourne and Down District Council District Electoral Areas (DEA) in the Local Government Election on Thursday 2 May 2019.
The Council DUP leader is stepping down following eight years at the helm, and two newcomers will run, James Savage in Downpatrick and Maynard Hanna in Slieve Croob.
The DUP were successful in winning two seats in the 2014 council election in Rowallane and one in Slieve Croob. And they are introducing new kid on the block James Savage to contest for a place in the Downpatrick DEA. The two candidates in The Mournes and Crotlieve DEA’s will be announced later next week.
Craig Stepping Down As Councillor
In announcing his retirement from the front of local government politics, Garth Craig said: “As many are already aware, I am not seeking re-election as a Councillor. It has been a pleasure to have represented my constituents for the last eight years. As I look back, I feel deeply honoured to have been placed in this position of trust by those who voted for me but I have sought to represent all those in my district electoral area irrespective of their political opinion.
“Although I will miss being a member of Newry Mourne and Down Council I feel the time is right to step back from the onerous Council responsibility’s and to free up more of my time. I want to record my thanks to all the officers and staff at all levels in Council for all the help and support they have given me in my time as a Councillor.
“I wish the DUP candidate Maynard Hanna every success in seeking election and believe he has all the qualities to make an excellent councillor and represent all the constituents of Slieve Croob.”
Councillor Billy Walker paid tribute to his party colleague Garth Craig and said: “As the Dup Group Leader on Newry Mourne & Down Council can I take this opportunity to pay tribute to our colleague Cllr Garth Craig who is standing down from Council after eight years of unblemished service representing the good people Ballynahinch on the legacy Down Council then Slieve Croob on Newry, Mourne, & Down.
“Garth over the years carried out his Council duties with professionalism and respected the people he represented irrespective of colour or creed. He has been a champion for the party on Recycling and ARC 21 and a very valued member of the Council planning committee where his expertise was very much appreciated by fellow committee members.
“Finally we in the DUP grouping would like to wish Garth a long and happy retirement and hopefully this will give him more time to spend with his wife children and grandchildren.”
Walker Goes Again In Rowallane
DUP stalwart Councillor Billy Walker is to run again in the Rowallene DEA. Speaking to Down News. Cllr Walker said: “I am delighted that the party have decided to put their trust in me once again to stand for the Rowallane DEA.
“I first stood as a councillor in the 2001 election and failed then to be elected but tried again in 2005 and was successful and have been returned each time since then on a DUP ticket.
“I’ve held this seat fighting constantly on bread and butter issues for my constituents. In 2010 I started working for Strangford MP Jim Shannon and looked after his constituency advice office in Ballynahinch. This gave me a unique insight into the issues facing people in the Rowallene area. Through this time I have worked closely with Jim Shannon who has shown his commitment too to the local people of Rowallene.
“I have worked for ALL the people of Rowallene for all these years regardless of their community background. I have worked on cross-community issues on a wide number of occasions such as on the Down PCSP or other inter-agency bodies.
“Through recent years I have struck up an excellent working relationship with SDLP Councillor Terry Andrews in this DEA and we work well together especially on issues of benefits, housing, health, education etc and other key issues that matter to the local people and I hope this work continues after May.
“The DUP in Rowallane work closely with each other and are an effective group eg we have produced results on the hockey pitch in Saintfield, helped to get funding for playparks, succeeded in getting roads’ re-surfacing schemes and managed to get people housed in difficult circumstances.
“I sincerely hope that the other elected representatives do not try and play the orange and green card the wrong way. In fact the orange and green in Rowallene is actually working very nicely. I have been working well with Cllr Andrews for the past eight years. People in Rowallene don’t want to see this sort of politics in our area.
“I’m therefore seeking the number one preference in this election. I am confident that the people of Rowallane will make the right choices.
“Both Cllr Andrews and myself have raised over £25,000 in the past four years for local charities in our area and if elected we will continue to work at this and raise another £25,000.
“My attendance at DEA and Council meetings and agency meetings has been around 98% unlike many other councillors whose attendance is in single figures. I have a solid work record under my belt. For example, I have a monthly walkabout with Transport NI officials and this good relationship has produced results for the Rowallane area such as on the Crossgar/Ballynahinch road, a £180,000 resurfacing programme on Frederick Street in Killyleagh, and work on the Shrigley Road in Crossgar. This is proof I’ve been working on the ground for the people of my area.”
Harvey To Fight For DUP Seat In Rowallane
Councillor Harry Harvey is to fight for a seat in the Rowallene DEA.
He said: “It is a privilege and an honour to have been selected by the Democratic Unionist Party to represent the constituents of the Rowallane area in Newry Mourne and Down District Council.
“These past four years have given me an excellent opportunity to represent all the people of the area, serving them to the best of my ability on various Council Committees including the Policing Community Safety Partnership.
“I have dedicated myself to representing the people of this area on a full-time basis, which meant stepping back from my former employment in Bells’ Motor Works in Crossgar. This step was necessary to allow me to give my very best to the position I hold in the Council.
“Because the Council area stretches from the outskirts of Saintfield to the other side of Crossmaglen, it involves a lot of miles on the road as committees are shared between the two Council Civic Centres in Downpatrick and Newry. It is also necessary to have representation wherever these committees sit, as decisions can be made in Newry which affect Crossgar. We always endeavour to lobby and do what is best for the needs of our Rowallane area.
“I trust the great people of Rowallane will give me their support once more and the opportunity to represent them again for what will be the second term of this our new council area. As before, I still propose to uphold my Christian principles in my politics.”
Savage To Stand In Downpatrick DEA
James Savage, a Killyleagh resident and a former student of Blackwater Integrated College in Downpatrick, said that it was an honour to be selected by the DUP to contest the Downpatrick seat in the upcoming council elections. He added: “While I have not been a member of the party for long, I have worked closely with our current councillors Billy Walker and Harry Harvey. I also shadowed First Minster Foster and Ministers Simon Hamilton and Michelle Mcilveen while I was on a work placement at school when the Stormont executive was still functioning.
“Although I am young but I do not lack experience. I have served on multiple community groups, assisted in organising cross-community activities and summer schemes.
“I also served two terms as the Member of the Youth Parliament for the Strangford constituency. In this role i worked closely with Jim Shannon MP.
“During my time I spoke in parliament where I was commended by the speaker for the best back bench contribution to our debate for my speech on the importance of our education system. I spoke at length on the need for our young people to learn about each other cultures so that we can route out sectarianism from our society at the earliest point.
“The Downpatrick area has gone for over a decade without Unionist representation. It is my intention to change that. If I am elected to serve as your councillor, I will be a voice not only for unionist but for all the people in the Downpatrick area.
“I am a younger more moderate voice than what most may be used to but I believe I can bring a positive change to the area.
“If given the chance I promise to work hard as part of a team to deliver for the people.
“I have chosen to stand with the DUP because I see the real work they have done on the ground in my home town and I want to bring about positive change and the lives of other and help deliver especially on the bread and butter issues,” explained James.