McCusker appointed secretary

CRAIGAVON’S newest councillor Colin McCusker - co-opted to the Civic Centre last month - has been appointed general secretary of the Ulster Unionist Party by leader Tom Elliott.

The role has been resurrected, having been placed in abeyance for a number of years - it was formerly held by senior party figures like Frank Millar and Jim Wilson.

The appointment ended a busy week for Mr McCusker who was welcomed to the Civic Centre by Mayor Alan Carson. He filled the seat vacated by MLA and Councillor Jo-Anne Dobson, who quit the council as she is opposed to double-jobbing.

Mr McCusker - the son of Harold McCusker, the Upper Bann MP who died in 1990 - will have considerable influence over the day-to-day running of the party.

He will take up the position as general secretary of the UUP in two weeks’ time. It means he will follow his father into full-time politics, giving up his managerial job with a large food company.

Mr McCusker stood in Upper Bann in last year’s Assembly election, but narrowly missed out to party colleagues Mrs Dobson and Samuel Gardiner.

He said: “I’m looking forward to my new role. I enjoy politics — it’s in the blood — and I will be starting on a learning curve.”

It is thought that the party is preparing him for future elections, and he may go again for the Assembly in 2016.