Sinn Féin introduced their new councillor at Monday night’s meeting of Craigavon Borough Council – Catherine Seeley who has been co-opted to replace group leader Johnny McGibbon.
Ms Seeley, a member of a well-known Lurgan family, was born and raised in the Teghnevan area. She is a graduate of Queen’s University in politics and history, to which she later added a post-graduate certificate in education.
She has been involved in Sinn Féin politics since from her student days. The local party feels she will contribute “the considerable experience and professionalism she has already gained as an educator to her new role as a political representative.”
She was welcomed to the meeting by all parties, in this, the final 15 months of Craigavon Borough Council before re-organisation. The party has selected Councillor Gemma McKenna as their group leader to replace Mr McGibbon in that role.
Mr McGibbon is to remain as a personal assistant to Upper Bann MLA and Education Minister John O’Dowd.
He told the Mail he was stepping down due to extra work commitments within the party. He is also currently studying for a degree.
Mr McGibbon was co-opted onto Craigavon council in August 2007 and then elected in the 2011 local government elections.
He has accepted a role in the Assembly structure of the party and said it was unrealistic to continue in the council. He added, “We were fortunate that in Catherine Seeley we had a viable and enthusiastic replacement willing to take on the role and we felt that the New Year was the right time to make the change.”
It is thought that Sinn Fein want Ms Seeley to fight the council elections in May and that Mr McGibbon will be in the mix for the 2015 Assembly poll, although the party say nothing has been decided.
Mr McGibbon lost out narrowly in 2011 with 4,879 first preferences – the fourth highest – but failed to attract enough transfers to see him across the line.