Unionists report increase in new members

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Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assembly and Stormont Agriculture Committee member, has told his constituency association that the past year had seen a steady increase in new members.

Assemblyman Swann, who was re-elected as North Antrim Chairman, was addressing a packed Annual General Meeting in Cloughmills Orange Hall, attended by members from all parts of the constituency.

Mr Swann added: “The past year has seen the party successfully retain its Assembly seat. We continue to build the association and especially strengthen the membership.

“Indeed, we have a terrific calendar of exciting political, fund-raising and social events planned in the coming months, including our annual Burns Night supper and entertainment in Clough Masonic Hall.”

As well as Mr Swann re-elected as North Antrim Chairman, other constituency officers elected included: Secretary, Mr Steven Phillips; Treasurer, Mr Roy McClean; President, former Ballymoney Mayor and 1982-86 Assembly member Mr Joe Gaston.

Another former Ballymoney Mayor, Councillor Bill Kennedy, was elected association Vice-Chairman.

Elected association Vice President was Rev Dr Robert Coulter MBE, who was himself North Antrim UUP MLA and a Stormont Commissioner from 1998 until he retired last year aged 81.

Rev Coulter said: “It is great to see all the new members joining the association. It is proof that our policy of putting people, patients, pupils and pensioners first is working on the ground.

“As an association, we wish Robin and his team every success in continuing to deliver their effective constituency service to the people of North Antrim.”

Rev Coulter said it was also refreshing to see North Antrim being represented among senior party officers in the Assembly team as Mr Swann was Group Deputy Chief Whip.

Rev Coulter had been UUP Group Chief Whip in the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue, the Stormont Assembly’s forerunner.

The guest speaker was Mid Ulster MLA Sandra Overend, who gave an indepth talk about her duties as an Assembly member and the constructive role of the UUP in Stormont.

Mrs Overend’s father, Mr Billy Armstrong, was the former UUP MLA in Mid Ulster. Both Mr Armstrong and Rev Dr Coulter herald from the Tyrone village of Stewartstown.