BALLYMONEY Council has elected its first lady Mayor for more than a quarter of a century.
DUP representative, Councillor Evelyne Robinson, became only the second female to occupy the First Citizen’s role when she was elected unopposed at last week’s annual meeting of the Council.
The last incumbent was Mrs. Molly Holmes who served for eight successive terms and managed 30 years service to the public as an Independent member. She stepped down in 1985.
Councillor Robinson, who was the favourite for the chair, said she was delighted at her being chosen and described it as an honour and a privilege.
Cllr Robinson was proposed for Mayor by Councillor Halliday and seconded by Alderman Cousley
There were no other nominations.
Alderman Cousley was proposed as deputy mayor by councillor Atkinson and seconded by Ald Campbell
Councillor Mclaughlin was proposed by Councillor McGuigan and seconded by Councillor Cavlan
On being put to the vote 9 voted for Ald. Cousley 4 voted for Cllr McLaughlin
Cllr Robinson thanked members for agreeing to accept her as Mayor and was delighted that council choose Alderman Cousley as her deputy.
Fittingly, one of the new Mayor’s first engagements came less than 24 hours later when she presented awards at a ceremony in Riada House to council employees who had chalked up 25 years service.
The electorate can expect a solid commitment from Cllr. Robinson who will have a busy year ahead.
Former Mayor, Councillor Ian Stevenson, congratulated his successor and wished her every success.
In his speech, Cllr. Stevenson reflected on a busy 12-month period during which he took some brave decisions two of which stand out.
Accompanied by the Parish Priest in Rasharkin, Cllr. Stevenson made a very public appearance in the village on the night of the annual Ballymaconnelly band parade in a bid to defuse tensions. With a strong police presence, the parade was one of the quietest for years.
He also caused some controversy in loyalist circles when he attended the Loughgiel Hurling Club’s games en route to the All-Ireland success and, in particular, when he donned a Shamrocks jersey and was filmed on the Loughgiel pitch with star player, Liam Watson.
Cllr. Steveson held 50 receptions during the year to recongise achievements of local groups, charities and individuals in the borough while his personal charity fundraising events yielded more than £2500 for Macmillan Cancer, St. Vincent De Paul and the Salvation Army.
Cllr. Stevenson relfected on the Freedom of the Borough ceremony for the Royal Irish Regiment in May and said he was proud to preside over the occasion. He was also delighted to help oversee the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the arrival of the Olympic torch.
The centenary of Kennedy K McArthur’s victory in the marathon at the 1912 Olympic games would also be marked with special celebrations in the Borough.
“We are again moving into a period of change with the decision to take forward proposals for the review of public administration and will continue to work in the best interests of Ballymoney as this programme moves forward,” Cllr. Stevenson added.