FIFTY-one people are seeking election to 31 seats across the Ballymoney and Moyle Council areas on May 5, writes Nevin Farrell.
Nominations closed last Thursday and in Ballymoney 26 candidates are in the running for 16 seats and in Moyle, 25 candidates are chasing 15 seats.
The DUP is the only party to put up a candidate in all six electoral areas across Ballymoney and Moyle.
But the big story involves the Ulster Unionists. One of the major developments of the campaign so far was Ulster Unionist Party hopeful David Traill’s name being absent from the list of runners.
Mr Trail, the High Sheriff for County Antrim, was being touted by the UUP as a good hope for a seat in the Bann Valley electoral area of Ballymoney Council but at the eleventh hour he realised he was ineligible and has withdrawn from the race.
Mr Trail told the Times that if anybody wants to stand as a councillor in a particular Council area they must be a voter in the area; own land in the area for the previous 12 months or have a place of business or work there.
And although he was photographed outside Ballymoney Council office with his party nominees in recent days, Mr Trail said he did not submit nomination forms and was only there in support of the other candidates.
He had submitted several press statements in recent weeks but it appears the UUP did not do their homework well enough as it emerged Mr Traill was ineligible to stand because he does not qualify under the rules.
He lives at Ballylough House near Derrykeighan which is actually just outside the Ballymoney Council area, being in Moyle; and although he works for himself “all over” he says that does not include Ballymoney.
On the property front he said at first he thought he may have owned property in the Ballymoney area through his families’ land rights but they are in his father’s name.
Mr Trail said he had “assumed” he would be able to stand in Ballymoney and it only emerged in recent days that he couldn’t.
He said he was disappointed at the turn of events and denied he was embarrassed by what many critics will see as a ‘gaffe’ by the party.
Mr Trail told the Times: “Very simply the ‘rights’ we have in the Ballymoney Borough are in my father’s name, not in my name so I can’t stand. It came up at the very last minute.”
He said he is now fully supporting the UUP candidate in Bann Valley, Steven Phillips, and has been out campaigning with him.
Mr Trail said he was doing the “honest” thing by not standing for Council in Ballymoney as he is ineligible “and it would be illegal to do anything else”.
But he says he is still dedicated to the UUP and hopes to come forward again at a future election.
“I am disappointed as I will not be able to help people,” he added.
Mr Trail said after his eleventh hour pull-out it was decided to just run one UUP candidate in Bann Valley.
There are some other notable absentees in this year’s election campaigns in north Antrim.
In Moyle one of Northern Ireland’s longest serving councillors, Independent Price McConaghy, is stepping down and over in the Glens Oliver McMullan is not standing for election to Moyle Council whilst back in Ballymoney the sole Traditional Unionist Voice councillor Audrey Patterson is not standing for Council but is going forward in the Assembly election which is also being held on May 5.
There is a media connection with two candidates - in Ballycastle press photographer Kevin McAuley is standing as an Independent whilst in Ballymoney, former Chronicle journalist Brian Kelly, is seeking election for the DUP.
Over in the Glens, East Antrim Assembly candidate, the SDLP’s Justin McCamphill is also standing for election to Moyle Council as the party’s Orla Black is not standing for re-election. Black’s SDLP namesake, party colleague Madeline Black, is not seeking re-election in Ballycastle.
Also in Moyle, there had been speculation recently that Martin McCormick was considering standing as an Independent on a ‘Bring Tesco to Ballycastle’ platform but no nomination materialised and he is now urging people to support pro-Tesco campaigner, Independent Seamus Blaney.
In Ballycastle, Helen Harding was not selected to stand again by the Ulster Unionists but she is going again as an Independent although Sinn Fein councillor Cathal Newcombe, who was not selected by his party, is not standing.
There will be a family battle for the McShane’s in Ballycastle with Independent Padraig McShane standing against his Sinn Fein sister, Cara McShane.
But the name of Independent and former Sinn Fein man James McCarry who sought a seat in The Glens by-election in 2007, does not feature this time round.
In the Unionist strongholds of north Antrim it will be interesting to see how the TUV compete against the DUP and Ulster Unionists and on the nationalist side the SDLP will be keen to see how they compare to Sinn Fein.
So the names are in and the election posters are going up. Let battle commence!
BALLYMONEY Council (16 seats, 26 candidates)
Ballymoney Town:- (5 seats, 9 candidates) Cecil Cousley (DUP); Daniel Hendrie (SDLP); Brian Kelly (DUP); Billy Kerr (TUV); Iain McAfee (no party listed but understood to be Independent); Tom McKeown (UUP); James Simpson (UUP); Ian Stevenson (DUP); Mervyn Storey (DUP).
Bann Valley:- (6 seats, 9 candidates) Jason Atkinson DUP); William Blair (TUV); John Finlay (DUP); Robert Halliday (DUP); Malachy McCamphill (SDLP); Philip McGuigan (Sinn Fein); Cathal McLaughlin (Sinn Fein); Leanne Peacock (Sinn Fein); Steven Phillips (Ulster Unionist).
Bushvale:- (5 seats, 8 candidates) Frank Campbell (DUP); Anita Cavlan (Sinn Fein); Harry Connolly (SDLP); Peter Deans (TUV); Jimmy Gaston (Sinn Fein); William Johnston (UUP); Bill Kennedy (UUP); Evelyne Robinson (DUP).
Moyle District Council (15 seats, 25 candidates)
Ballycastle (5 seats, 9 candidates) Joan Baird (UUP); Seamus Blaney (Independent); Donal Cunningham (SDLP); Paul Hamilton (Sinn Fein); Helen Harding (Independent); Kevin McAuley (Independent); Christina McFaul (DUP); Cara McShane (Sinn Fein); Padraig McShane (Independent).
Giant’s Causeway (5 seats, 8 candidates) Derwyn Brewster (Independent); Willie Graham (UUP); George Hartin (DUP); Sandra Hunter (UUP); Davy McAllister (DUP); Robert McIlroy (DUP); Sharon McKillop (TUV); Jacqui McVicker (UUP).
The Glens (five seats, 8 candidates) Walter Greer (DUP); Noreen McAllister (Sinn Fein); Catherine McCambridge (SDLP); Justin McCamphill (SDLP); Randal McDonnell (Independent); Margaret McKillop (Sinn Fein); Kieran Mulholland (Sinn Fein); Colum Thompson (Independent).