Lockhart elected as Mayor amid voting controversy

Carla Lockhart who was elected Mayor of Craigavon
Carla Lockhart who was elected Mayor of Craigavon
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COUNCILLOR Carla Lockhart is the new Mayor of Craigavon - after a voting controversy at the council's AGM.

Sinn Fein have said they will be seeking legal advice as unionists insisted on a second vote at Wednesday night's Mayoral election.

The borough solicitor had been called in to give his opinion on the wrangle at the Craigavon Council AGM.

Earlier Sinn Fein's Mairead O'Dowd topped the poll with 11 votes for her to take up the Mayor's post.

But all was not clear cut as unionists attempted to have the three votes Alderman Arnold Hatch (UUP) received for election as Mayor transferred to the DUP's Carla Lockhart, who received 10 votes.

After advice from Craigavon Borough Council's solicitor the UUP's Arnold Hatch was eliminated and a new vote between SF's Mairead O'Dowd and the DUP's Carla Lockhart was taken.

Sinn Fein had called for advice from senior counsel but this was rejected. The party indicated they would not participate in the new vote.

Cllr Lockhart received 12 votes and there were five abstentions. There was uproar as Lockhart was declared mayor.

Sinn Fein remained seated as Cllr Lockhart returned to the chamber as mayor.

Alderman Arnold Hatch was elected deputy mayor, with SF reiterating that they would not participate in the vote.

Sinn Fein declared they will be seeking legal advice on the issue.

Before the vote the chief executive, Dr Teresa Donaldson, said there had been three instances in 2003, 2004 and 2005 when the candidate with the lowest number of votes was elimated and there was a second vote with the two remaining candidates.

SF's Johnny McGibbon said there had also been situations when councillors had been elected to posts by a straight majority vote.

There was uproar in the chamber with shouts of farce from Sinn Fein as Councillor Lockhart was elected.

Sinn Fein Cllr McKenna demanded legal advice but the borough solicitor said the chair had already ruled on the election and any disputes would need to be taken up via judicial review.

See more reaction on this story in next week’s ‘MAIL’.

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