Monday, May 20, 2024
COUNTDOWN TO COUNCIL ELECTION

COUNTDOWN TO COUNCIL ELECTION

THE composition of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for the next four years will be decided when voters go to the polls tomorrow (Thursday). A total of 80 candidates will fight it out for the votes that could land them one of the 41 seats available across the seven district electoral areas (DEAs). Having increased their representation on council from 14 seats to 16 in 2019, Sinn Féin are illustrating their aim to grow this further by having 24 different names on the various ballot papers, the most of any party.

The SDLP entered the last election with e concluded. Concern at loss of more hospital doctors MOURNES councillor Harold McKee has voiced concern at the loss of more doctors from Daisy Hill Hospital. The TUV representative was speaking in relation to a Southern Trust statement on Monday that confirmed that pressures at the Newry hospital had “escalated recently with a number of medical staff ending their tenure”. “Having campaigned for the retention of services at Daisy Hill Hospital for many years, and as an active member of the lobby group seeking to protect it, I am deeply concerned by this news that a number of medical staff have ended their tenure,” he said. “People in Mourne have been concerned about the continual running down of services at Daisy Hill for years, and, frankly, the way the Department of Health and Trust have treated the hospital over a sustained period means that there is little surprising about what has happened. “Once again, the people of my area will feel that they have been forgotten about.”

The Trust statement had acknowledged the challenges faced by the shortage of medical staff across all of its hospitals. “Recruiting and retaining enough medical staff has been a significant issue in Daisy Hill Hospital in recent years, but the pressures have escalated recently with a number of medical staff ending their tenure at the hospital,” it read.  “The regional and international shortage of consultants, difficulties recruiting middle grade and junior doctors and the serious over-reliance on locum doctors are matters of great concern in meeting the increasing demands for acute medicine and providing stable medical staffing cover in our medical wards.” It was also stated that the Trust is looking “at every viable option to address these serious ongoing challenges and stabilise our workforce in Daisy Hill and our other hospitals”, and that it is “very proud of the high quality care that continues to be provided to our patients by our very dedicated medical staff in all our hospitals”. In a statement, Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty (SDLP) claimed that Daisy Hill’s “last two remaining stroke Mournes councillor Harold McKee.

Cllr Leeanne McEvoy is calling for work to make this access to the shorefront in Killowen safer. By Ryan Sands ryan@mourneobserver.com consultants” had recently resigned, and said that he has been advised by senior clinicians that “all gastroenterologists have resigned, the respiratory ward has now been closed, and that the medical rota at the hospital has ‘basically collapsed’”. “It cannot be acceptable in the 21st century that a city the size of Newry, with all of south Armagh and south Down, does not have a stroke specialist in our hospital,” he said. The MLA added that staff, including senior clinicians at Daisy Hill Hospital, had reached out to him “in a state of despair” and added that in their view the local “hospital is collapsing down around their ears”. In January 2022, the Southern Trust made the decision to remove emergency surgery services from Daisy Hill – initially on a temporary basis due to failure to recruit new permanent consultant general surgeons – centralising them in Craigavon Area Hospital in the process. Daisy Hill Hospital. Continued from front page the same amount of councillors as Sinn Féin, though disappointing results saw this fall to 11. With 15 candidates this time out, bouncing back would appear to be the goal for the party. The DUP began the last council term as the second largest unionist party with three seats, though finished it the largest with five thanks to two sitting councillors joining their ranks.

The UUP had the reverse experience of the DUP, with its council representation halving from four to two over the course of the last four years, with two councillors leaving for other parties. Both are fielding eight candidates tomorrow. Alliance held on to their two seats in 2019, though a growth in their vote did not translate to additional seats; however, they appear optimistic of increasing their representation with eight candidates seeking election tomorrow. Other parties in the running include the Green Party (six candidates), Aontú (three), the TUV (one) and the Workers’ Party (one), whilst there are a total of six independents split over three of the district’s ballot papers. In the Mournes, all seven councillors that finished the last term – Willie Clarke, Leeanne McEvoy and Michael Rice (Sinn Féin), Glyn Hanna and Henry Reilly (DUP), Laura Devlin (SDLP), and Harold McKee (TUV) – are seeking another term on the local authority, but will face competition from Lloyd Douglas (UUP), Seán O’Baoill (Green), Dominic O’Reilly (SDLP) and Jill Truesdale (Alliance). There are 10 names on the Slieve Croob ballot paper, including the most recent holders of its five seats – Jim Brennan and Róisín Howell (Sinn Féin), Hugh Gallagher (SDLP), Alan Lewis (DUP), and Andrew McMurray (Alliance). The other candidates are Walter Lyons (UUP), Rosemary McGlone (Aontú), Siobhán O’Hare (Sinn Féin), Séana Pitt (Green) and Will Polland (SDLP).

Voters in Crotlieve will have the most choice of any DEA with a total of 15 runners, including all current councillors – Declan McAteer and Karen McKevitt (SDLP), Gerry O’Hare and Mickey Ruane (Sinn Féin), Mark Gibbons (Independent), and Jarlath Tinnelly (Independent). Kate Murphy and Selina Murphy complete Sinn Féin’s list of DEA candidates, whilst Anne Sheridan (SDLP) will be likewise seeking to increase her party’s representation. Independents Jim Boylan and Finbarr Lambe, Ricky McGaffin (UUP), Daniel Neary (Alliance), Hugh O’Reilly (Green), and Keith Parke (DUP) complete Crotlieve’s list of prospective councillors. With the SDLP’s Dermot Curran and John Trainor stepping down from council, only three incumbents in the Downpatrick DEA – Cadogan Enright (Alliance), Oonagh Hanlon (Sinn Féin) and Gareth Sharvin (SDLP) – are seeking re-election. Joining the battle for the five available seats are Conor Galbraith and Aurla King (SDLP), Philip Campbell and Louise Rooney (Sinn Féin), Alexander Burgess (UUP), Sharon Harvey (DUP), Éamonn Mac Con Midhe (Independent), and Declan Walsh (Green). Rowallane – like The Mournes, Slieve Croob and Crotlieve – has all of its sitting councillors seeking election, namely Callum Bowsie and Jonny Jackson (DUP), David Lee-Surginor (Alliance), Terry Andrews (SDLP), and Robert Burgess (UUP). Completing the ballot paper are Rachel Gracey (UUP), Tierna Kelly (Alliance), Dermot Kennedy (Sinn Féin) and Ali McColl (Green). A total of 13 seats are also up for grabs in Newry (six) and Slieve Gullion (seven). The election count is pencilled in to take place in Newry Leisure Centre over two days, with the final make-up of the council chamber for the next four years likely to be completed at some stage on Saturday afternoon.

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