Local authority gains youngest councillor

BANBRIDGE District Council boasted the youngest councillor in Northern Ireland back in 1985 when Miss Vivienne McCullough (21) won a by-election to take the seat left vacant by her father's death.

Councillor Raymond McCullough (47) had held a seat in Banbridge Council since the reorganisation of local government in 1973.

The former council chairman had been a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and vice-chairman of its Agriculture Committee.

Miss McCullough’s bid to secure her father’s seat saw her sweep to victory on the second count, defeating nearest rival Patrick Doyle of the SDLP.

Her win meant the Official Unionists lost their overall majority on the council for the first time.

Official Unionist standard-bearer Mr. Herbert Heslip, attempting to regain the seat in lost in elections earlier that year, exited on the first count.Some 927 of Mr. Heslip’s transfers took Independent Unionist Miss McCullough comfortably past the 1,983 quota.

The SDLP, meanwhile, claimed a moral victory in the election, Mr. Paddy O’Donaoghue, the party’s constituency representative for South Down declaring he was well pleased with almost one third of the first-preference votes.

He said the SDLP had substantially increased its vote and has a solid base on which to build for the future.

The by-election saw the Official Unionist grouping on council reduced to seven, the DUP holiding three seats, the SDLP, three, Independent Unionist, one and Independent, one.

Miss McCullough took up her seat four days after the poll win and was welcomed by then chairman, Mr. Sam Cowan.

She said it was a privilege to take her seat and she looked forward to working for the people of the district.