DUP Councillor Trevor Clarke has announced he is stepping down from Antrim Council after eight-and-a-half years.
Councillor Clarke told council colleagues on Thursday that his decision stemmed from the Local Government Bill which comes into effect next year and bars MLAs from ‘double jobbing’ and sitting on local councils as well the Assembly.
He explained that by stepping down from council now, it would allow the DUP to co-opt another party representative into the seat, and therefore “save the rate-payers the expense of a by-election”.
Cllr. Clarke said he was sad to be stepping down from council, and said he’d enjoyed his time adding: “It is to my regret that I am going to have to leave.”
Cllr. Clarke said that the DUP had, through a democratic process, selected his wife Linda to take over his seat in Antrim North West.
Leading tributes to Cllr. Clarke, Mayor Councillor Roderick Swann joked that “my wife is the boss in our house and I’m sure in your house you’re wife is the boss as well”.
Alderman Mervyn Rea commented that once Cllr. Clarke “got the bit between his teeth” he wouldn’t give in where an issue concerned his consituents.
Cllrs. Adrian Watson and Brian Duffin both wished Cllr. Clarke well, with Cllr. Kieran McMullan commenting that Cllr. Clarke had been thought very highly of by former Councillor Bobby Loughran, who retired from council earlier this year.
Sinn Fein’s Henry Cushinan said that while he and Cllr. Clarke had “not always agreed nor probably never will”, he acknowledged had worked very hard for his constituents.
However, the DUP’s selection methods were met with criticism from UUP Councillor Paul Michael, who noted: “The DUP continues to keep it in the family and we’ve seen that throughout the years with the Robinsons, Dodds and McCreas.”
But he did add that Cllr. Clarke had been an “active member” representing his constituents.
Cllr. Clarke replied that the DUP had carried out a democratic process in selecting a replacement