Woods and Baxter give local flavour

The DUP took three of the five seats in the Lagan River District, with the Ulster Unionists taking the other two.

The DUP trio includes current Craigavon Mayor Mark Baxter and Banbridge Councillors Hazel Gamble (the council deputy chair) and Paul Rankin.

For the Ulster Unionists Banbridge Councillor Carol Black takes a seat alongside newcomer on the political scene Marc Woods from Waringstown.

It was a tightly fought contest with Baxter taking 1,341 first preference votes, followed by Rankin on 1,268 and Woods on 1,023.

Baxter and Rankin had to wait to the sixth stage of the count to make the 1,397 quota and thus take their seats.

It was the ninth and final stage that the remaining candidates were elected, following the elimination of the Alliance Party’s Harry Hamilton (who had gained 522 first preference votes).

But for one of two notable departures - that of Banbridge Council Chairman and Dromore Councillor Olive Mercer - the Ulster Unionists would have held the narrow majority now enjoyed by the DUP, who won 13 seats to the UUP’s 12 in the council overall.

Mrs Mercer’s exclusion in the Lagan River DEA was offset for the UUP in Banbridge, where sitting Councillor Glenn Barr landed 1,999 first-preference votes - among the highest totals provincewide - to claim one of three seats for the UUP, the DUP securing two and the remaining two seats going one apiece to Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

Notably absent is the Alliance Party, Sheila McQuaid’s exclusion bringing down the curtain on years of local government service, her own and husband Frank’s before

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said of the Banbridge and Lagan River results: “To have Councillor Glenn Barr romp home by topping the poll and being successfully elected on the first count is a magnificent achievement.

“Equally for Councillors Ian Burns and Elizabeth Ingram to be elected on count two and ahead of all other candidates proves just how strong the party support is in Banbridge and across the whole region.

“We have also successfully achieved two seats in the new Lagan River DEA, with newly elected Councillor Marc Woods and Councillor Carol Black going forward to represent the Ulster Unionist Party in the new ABC Council.”