The new man in Larne

There’s a new Mayor in Larne. SDLP man Danny O’Connor has broken through the barrier in the town’s political hierarchy to become the first catholic nationalist mayor there in an agreed rotation system. Over the years, Danny hasn’t had his sorrows to seek with attacks on his home, terrorising members of his family. It’s a mark of his courage that he has stayed there and remained steadfast against his opponents. I wish him well in his term as Lord Mayor.

Our progress is often measured in baby steps, but this has to be seen as one more step in a direction of normality.

Ahead of the vote, Mr O’Connor said: “We’re not where we used to be. There was a time in Larne when there were a lot of problems – a lot of houses were attacked, but I do believe that we’ve turned a corner. There has been a huge amount of work done by other councillors in the background in trying and make the town more peaceful. I just think that this is a further step down that road of normality.”

  • fair_deal

    “the first catholic mayor”

    As far as I am aware he isnt the first catholic mayor of Larne but he is the first nationalist. I think there was an independent councillor (who was a Catholic) in the 1960’s who was elected mayor.

  • Crataegus

    A good news story, and a glimmer of hope.

  • Miss Fitz

    FD, stand corrected, you’re right, I was rushing….

  • lillybill

    Great to see a ‘direction of normality’ being brought to the north east. Now if only the ‘welcome to loylist Larne’ on the bridge could be removed, that’d be another good sign of progress!

  • Jo

    One wonders what a Catholic former soldier has to do to earn the respect and wholehearted endorsement of the begrudgers.

    Oh, it would appear to be giving up his aspiration to a United Ireland. How reasonable.

    On the other hand, I have nothing but admiration for Mr O’Connor and wish him all the best for year in office and the future.

  • Nevin
  • lib2016

    It’s an important straw in the wind. Let’s hope that the same wind of change blows up in Stormont.

  • slug

    Congratulations to Larne and to Mr O’Connor!

  • Craigy Hill

    congrats also to new Deputy Mayor, Young Unionist Chairman Mark ‘Not A Tory’ Dunn

  • darth rumsfeld

    “One wonders what a Catholic former soldier has to do to earn the respect and wholehearted endorsement of the begrudgers”

    Eh- who’s begrudging? He richly deserves the honour, and will be a credit to the post

  • ahem

    He’s a political heavy weight in Larne all right.

  • An Beirneach

    There is no question of Danny having given up his firm intention of working for a united Ireland, but as he said last night, the immediate job in hand is to unite Larne. If uniting Ireland is to be more than a vapid slogan,it must be about uniting people. People like Danny have the potential to actually achieve unity, which is more than can be said of Sinn Fein, for example. Actually, the most interesting speech of the evening came from Alderman McKee of the DUP, who openly acknowledged that Catholics have indeed had to keep their heads down in Larne in recent decades.

  • heres hoping

    AB can you not just help yourself this thread had nothing to do with Sinn Fein and you had to make a cheap remark. I wonder now that you brought it up is Danny on the post-nationalism side of the stoops or the 100% for a united ireland as along as uu/alliance voters dont hear us saying it side.

  • Crow

    Anyone want to predict the year we will see a nationalist mayor for Lisburn, Ballymena or some of the other bastions of loyalism?

  • abucs

    2016 ? :o)

  • memorystick

    “He’s a political heavy weight in Larne all right”

    yeah, was there not something in the papers a while ago about him slugging one of the unionist reps?!?

  • Gum

    3016 more likely abucs!

  • Jo

    I thought that there might have less than a warm welcome for this election from the DUP which I was trying to pre-emept.

    Irish unity is legitimate aspiration for those who wish to pursue it peacefully – its abandonment should not be a requisite for electoral office or working for the good of all, which the new Mayor is well able and has the energy to do. I welcome McKee’s acknoweldgement.

  • aquifer

    He deserves whatever prizes life offers. Nobody should have had to go through what this modest brave and principled man has.

    Loyalist bigotry is a gutless vile thing and he has done us all a service in standing up to it.

  • fair_deal


    “a nationalist mayor for Lisburn,”

    There has already been a nationalist mayor of Lisburn, the SDLP’s Peter O’Hagan

  • Crow

    Oops forgot about Peter O’Hagan. Thanks for the correction.

  • bertie

    I hope that it sends a message about how unacceotable intimidation is whether it is from an orange or green source.

  • Smiley Fly on the Wall

    An Beirneach,

    I think it is rather sad that you Seamus, as an SDLP press officer, sat with Alban through all of the proceedings, heard all the speeches from Alliance and both Unionist parties about a shared future, about the fact that Larne is a mixed community, about progress, about peace and non sectarianism, and yet you chose to focus on and highlight Ald McKee’s rather ill advised reference to Bernadette Devlin’s ‘head hung low’ jibe in his unscripted and slightly rambling proposal for Ald O’Connor to be Mayor.

    (the spate of sectarian attacks and vandalism 99-2001- which was not all one- way was a combination of piss poor post Patten policing, an attempt by a small group of republicans to dominate a mixed estate, and an orchestrated UDA campaign directed from outside the borough (see Henry McDonald’s book)

    Most of the Councillors in Larne are acutely aware of the awful but not accurate public image Larne has (which is reflected in the Belfast media and also whenever the place is mentioned on places like Slugger).

    That is why they got together on an away day after the last election, sat in a room together and took 10 minutes to share the Council positions on a proportionate basis. Further it was strongly felt that with Larne BC expiring forever in 4 years time that it would be in order for the 4 party blocs to have the post of Mayor one time each. The need to send out a positive message about a shared future was paramount. No need for d’hondt to be run, or outside mediators to be brought in. (Funny when the agreement was publicised last year, nobody in the media was interested in the slightest).

    I get the impression that some people (AB included) are just a bit disappointed that a ‘unionist dominated’ (in the sense that that is what the people voted for)- council has shown some civic leadership and generosity of spirit here, and are not quite prepared to acknowledge this, as it does not fit the stereotype. Much easier to have a John Dallat- like gurn about Coleraine.