On Friday 2 April, Jim Wells MLA handed in his nomination papers for the NI Assembly election accompanied by First Minister Arlene Foster and his election agent, Newry Mourne and Down District Councillor Glyn Hanna.
The group then set off to Walter Watson’s steel fabrication factory near Castlewellan for a meeting with Mr Watson who employs around 250 workers, and drove on to the Milbrook Lodge Hotel in Ballynahinch for a press briefing and dinner with the local media. Arlene Foster accompanied Jim Wells on his tour and stayed for dinner chatting to the press and the local DUP councillors present discussing some key issues.
Despite the recent difficulties he faced over his resignation as Health Minister following allegations of comments at a hustings event in Downpatrick, and coping with the difficulties of his wife who has had two strokes, he is upbeat about the election and sees himself as a from runner in the Unionist camp for South Down, but he did acknowledge that TUV opponent and election candidate Henry Reilly had a very strong personal vote.
Jim Wells is certainly the most experienced candidate standing in the 5 May NI Assembly election.
He was first elected to a Stormont assembly in 1982 at the age of 25 and has since represented the constituency as an MLA and a former Down District Council councillor for over 21 years.
He is the only Unionist ever to have topped the poll in an Assembly election and he was easily re-elected in 2011.
During his long service in the Assembly Jim Wells has held many important posts, including Deputy Speaker, Chairman of the Health Committee and as a Minister of Health on the Executive.
He has many years experience in local government in South Down including a decade of service on Down District Council. He has also served on the boards of community and voluntary groups in Kilkeel and Downpatrick.
During his two decades as an MLA, Jim Wells has provided representation to constituents on a wide range of important issues including planning, roads and social security appeals. He has had a full time advice centre in Kilkeel for many years.
A vote for Jim Wells on May 5th is a vote for experience, consistency and a strong DUP team at Stormont led by Arlene Foster.
Owen Paterson Visits Kilkeel
DUP South Down MLA Jim Wells organised a visit of former Agriculture Minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson MP to Kilkeel today. He was met by DUP Cllr Glyn Hanna, Allan McCulla, Chief Executive of Anglo North Irish Fish Producers Organisation, David Hill ANIFPO Chair and other representatives of the fishing industry.
Mr Paterson also toured Rooney Fish where he met John Rooney, Chief Executive, and Andrew Rooney, General Manager.
During his visit Owen Paterson discussed the European Union and its impact on the fishing industry, especially the affect of the Common Fisheries Policy on both trawler owners and fish producers. He is a strong supporter of the BREXIT campaign and told fishermen that those who are now advocating to remain within the EU are exactly the same people who warned of economic turmoil 15 years ago if the UK did not adopt the Euro. Mr Paterson said that “they were proved wrong then and would would be proved wrong again on 23th of June.”
Commenting on Mr Paterson’s visit, Jim Wells said: “I was delighted that such an influential member of parliament took the time to visit Kilkeel and gain firsthand knowledge of the pressures that the fishing industry is under in County Down. Those he met provided him with a very clear understanding of the impact of Europe on the fishing sector.”