THE DUP’s Darryn Causby is favourite to become the penultimate Mayor of Craigavon, with the annual meeting to take place on Wednesday, June 5.
A DUP insider told the Mail that Causby was a Mayoral front-runner, adding, “There have been no meetings as yet on the subject, but as the DUP is the biggest party in the council (nine of 26 seats) we believe we are entitled to retain the top post.”
But this will cause another row similar to last year when Sinn Fein’s Mairead O’Dowd received 11 votes on the first count, against Lockhart’s 10 and Arnold Hatch’s three. SF argued it should be first past the post, the unionists insisted it was PR; legal advice agreed it was PR, and Hatch’s three votes were transferred to Lockhart.
It meant that the DUP had provided the Mayor of Craigavon in five out of the past six years. This will not happen in the new super council where the d’hondt mechanism will kick in and the top posts will be shared.
If Causby makes it as Mayor, it will mean that only two nationalists have been First Citizen since Craigavon Borough Council was formed in 1973 - the SDLP’s Dolores Kelly (1999-2000) and Ignatius Fox (2003-04). Before Kelly was elected, the UUP virtually monopolised the position of Mayor, but then the DUP became the biggest unionist party.
When the Mail asked Mr Causby to comment on the speculation, he said: “The position of Mayor has not been discussed within our council group, and I can’t comment.”
It is understood that Mr Causby will be contesting the ABC election in the much-changed Portadown Ward (six seats), which embraces Loughgall, Birches, Mahon, Ballybay, Corcrain and Killicomaine.
The Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council (ABC) Local Government District is expected to have 41 wards, 41 councillors and a total electorate of almost 140,000.
The Lurgan district will have the largest number of councillors (seven) as will Banbridge while Portadown and Armagh will have six each and the Craigavon, Cusher and the new Lagan River districts will have five councillors each.
The poll will be in May 2014, although the new super council will not be functional until May 2015.
Causby’s party label will also be used to boost his fellow DUP politicians contesting Portadown. And the ‘brand’ of current Mayor Carla Lockhart will be used in the same way in Lurgan (also six seats). The wards are Aghagallon, Lough Road, Shankill, Parklane, Mourneview, Knocknashane and Magheralin.
All councillors will represent the entire constituency, but there will be the usual bitter scraps within the individual wards, of which there are 41 in the ABC council area.
The Mayoral tactic worked in 2005 when David Simpson was elected Mayor the previous year and went on to trounce the then First Minister, the UUP’s David Trimble, for his Westminster seat by a stunning 5,398 majority. The mayoralty amounted to a year’s campaign for Simpson, with the attendant publicity in the media and in the community building up his profile.
Mr Causby was a newcomer in the 2011 elections, attracting just 237 first preferences in an 888 quota. He squeezed home on a late count, one of four DUP members to make it in Portadown.
Should Craigavon have another DUP mayor? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org