Sinn Fein Lord Mayor vows to work for all

Lord Mayor, Councillor Garath Keating. INPT23-025
Lord Mayor, Councillor Garath Keating. INPT23-025

The borough’s new Lord Mayor took his place in the top council seat on Monday evening wearing his now trademark black trilby.

Armagh Sinn Fein councillor Garath Keating (34) had been tipped for the position, and his election went through with no surprises at this week’s annual general meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (ABC).

Mr Keating, a law graduate and party leader in the council, took over the Mayoral chain from the DUP’s Darryn Causby.

The position of Deputy Lord Mayor went to DUP councillor Paul Greenfield, who lives in Waringstown and is originally from Banbridge. He took over from Sinn Fein’s Catherine Seeley.

Under the D’Hondt system, it had been agreed last year that this year’s top posts would be rotated and go to a Sinn Fein and DUP councillor respectively.

Addressing the chamber, Mr Keating (34), who is due to get married in a few weeks’ time, said his predecessor Darryn Causby had set the bar particularly high, having notched up 900 engagements in his term as Lord Mayor.

He said the position of Mayor had the capacity to bring people together and that during his term he hoped to meet as many sections of the community as possible.

He added, “I am conscious that for many people in the borough it will be the first time they have had a Sinn Fein Mayor and for those who are wary I hope I can demonstrate that our politics are progressive.

“I think we have so many fantastic assets in the borough. I want to create employment opportunities and build stronger community relations.”

Mr Keating was co-opted onto the Armagh legacy council in 2013 and elected to the new ABC Council two years ago.

He is employed by the Sinn Fein constituency advice office in Armagh and formerly worked in the Assembly team as a political adviser to MLA Cathal Boylan.

A law graduate of Queen’s University, Mr Keating also has a Master’s degree in Public Policy and worked in a law firm for more than five years.

Deputy Mayor, Cllr Greenfield told the chamber that as a councillor in Banbridge he had sought to represent the whole community and would also do so for the citizens of the ABC Council.

Three new members were also welcomed into the council to replace councillors who have taken up MLA posts. They are Liam Mackle of Sinn Fein who replaces Catherine Seeley, Terry McWilliams of the DUP who takes the place of Carla Lockhart and Julie Flaherty of the UUP who replaces Doug Beattie.

Cusher DUP councillor Gareth Wilson was also elevated to the title of alderman following Alderman Lockhart’s departure.