Seamus Close to leave politics…

Seamus Close is finally leaving politics after 33 years and 20 elections. His seat in Lagan Valley was never a strong Alliance area, and it is thought that much of his vote was at one time a highly personal one. Trevor Lunn, the current mayor of Lisburn is an obvious successor, and his colleague on Lisburn Betty Campbell, whose home territory is in the rural south of the council area around Dromara and Finis, is another possible contender.

Anorak fact: By the time Lisburn Council goes into abeyance in or around 2009, Seamus Close will have been the only one of only two councillors to have served the full length of the Council itself. Update: Ivan Davis of the UUP is the other one… Secondary factoid: Close, Oliver Napier and Sean Neeson were all students at St Malachi’s College.

  • URQUHART

    Could be good news for Patricia Lewsley.

    And sodomites.

  • Reporter

    Was it not Eileen Bell who he had the barney with? Something about a homophobic comment he made..

  • Ivan

    No he wont, Ivan Davis was on in 1973 as well.

  • Mick Fealty

    Apologies Ivan. My bad (again)…

  • CS Parnell

    Actually, Catholics of a certain age who passed the qually either went there or to St. Mary’s. Let’s not forget, forty years ago Catholics were a small (33%) minority in the city. And not just because the boundaries were fiddled.

  • Bemu s ed

    [Removed. Though I’m not banning you, just yet. Just play the ball!]

  • Mark

    It does make Lagan Valley even more interesting than it always was for a potential Assembly election. If the lose of Seamus’ personality factor, already on the wain from his 1998 (6,788) poll topper to 2003 (4,408) resulted in a further reduction for Alliance with votes drifting further to Lewsley in support of her battle with Butler in a constituency with a growing Nationalist demographic and further again to the UUP to support their fight with the DUP now that Donaldson has switched sides you could see a very interesting scrap at the bottom.

    I wouldn’t even know how to start calling seats in Lagan Valley for Nicholas’ prediction competition if we do have a early 2007 election. I’d go for an Alliance lose to start with, them being knocked out before they can benefit from their higher transfer rate but I could be as wrong as last time.

    On a personal note I’ve found Seamus a complete gentleman on the few occasions we met and his explanation of the transfer rate for over quota votes clarified something I always found it hard to get my head wrapped around. I won’t miss him and I mean that as a compliment.

  • Dr Snuggles

    I wish the man no ill, but many Alliance supporters were appalled to hear his ill-conceived justification for proposing a ban on civil partnership registrations taking place in Lisburn Borough Council’s Cherry Room.

    At the time, Mr Close said: “We have a wedding suite and as a council we decided to keep that room for weddings and not allow civil partnership registrations there.” He made that comment despite the fact that the council freely allows the Cherry Room to be booked for “business needs”, as stated on its website.

    He never had the honesty to admit that his opposition to civil partnerships was based on personal religious belief, and instead relied on vague comments about the boundaries between “right and wrong” being “blurred”.

    Thankfully, the Close proposal was swiftly found to be illegal and was overturned.

    I am quite sure that Seamus Close may well have done good work for his constituents over the years, but I and many other liberal centrists will remember him as an embarrassing homopobe and will not lament his leaving the political scene.

  • Blefescu

    I regret the decision of Seamus Close to stand down. Didn’t always agree with what he said, but he was terrier-like and honest in his convictions. His standing down will possibly help Patricia Lewsley, though the SDLP is scandalously disorganised in Lagan Valley.
    By the way, Mick, it’s ‘St. Malachy’s’ and SDLP politicians who attended that school include the Attwoods and Alban Maginness.

    Both the Alliance and SDLP Malachians are all decent people. However, listening to Seamus and his justifiable contempt for John Reid and, by extension, British government policies, there is an increasing dichotomy/contradiction between the sheer immorality of the British government’s machinations and the legitimacy of the unionist people’s position on the island. It’s like what John Hume said, it’s up to those of us who believe in a united Ireland to persuade unionists of its benefits.

    As a democratic nationalist, I have to say if the British government’s presence went tomorrow, it wouldn’t be soon enough.

  • mark

    It is interesting to speculate where any dropped APNI votes will go and I understand the thought they may bolster Lewsley but a quick glance at the figures from Lagan Valley shows that Lewsley has never benefitted from a drop in Seamus’ vote.

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/alv.htm

    The APNI votes have often seen to be lent to pro-agreement or anti-DUP candidates. Lewsley has continued to haemorrhage SDLP votes from a growing Nationalist electorate even when the APNI vote goes down.

    I expect most will drift to the UUP against three DUP candidates two of whom did not run for that party and I expect the DUP to run four candidates.

  • mark

    Sorry, I should have said for those that don’t know it makes it easier if you ignore the Council elections if predicting a future Assembly election as the council includes Nationalist areas not included in Westminster or Assembly elections.

  • billy money

    Is it certain that the Alliance vote will decline in Lagan Valley (however much some here might wish)?

    Perhaps a different Alliance candidate would attract liberal voters who have either not voted in recent years or voted for others (eg SDLP) because Seamus Close’s personal convictions turned them off. Close vote last time plus extra liberals minus Close personal vote equals what?

    If Liberal votes are won back mostly from SDLP, while fewer personal votes leak to both SDLP and UUP, it would make Alliance position better for a new candidate.

  • Billy

    Seamus Close is a political non entity.

    Once when he was “debating” with Ian Paisley on TV, he mentioned his mandate. Paisley replied that he had just topped the NI Euro poll while Close had only been elected to the council on the 6th count.

    He likes the sound of his own voice and is self-important. However, his political highlights were being mayor of Lisburn and deputy leader of the Alliance party – wow!!.

    I don’t know where this talk of a seat in the Lords came from but it’s clearly a joke. I can’t see his votes making any real difference to the next election in Lagan Valley.

  • Setanta

    Seamus Close is a rather tragic figure – punch drunk on his own self importance even at the end of his largely irrelevant career.

    I know there are better things I could be doing than spending time commenting on him but I was wondered why Talkback were spending time on him and listened – see link to BBC story above…

    It was clearly a quiet news day or someone at the BBC owed him…it was nothing less than a hagiography. The sad little man mentioned his mandate several times, “topped the poll”.. blah blah blah, spouted a few generalisms along the lines of “Sure wouldn’t it be great if we could all get along” (except with gay people, I assume) and told us that he was right all along and if only we had listened…

    I wish I was exaggerating…I would urge you to have a listen, if only to see how the power over bin collections can corrupt.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Like many politicians who retire, he’s now speaking the truth about the inability of powersharing to work after years of seeking election endorsing it.

    Unfortunately he couldn’t help his voice, which meant he came across as an annoying wee yap, even when he was talking sense, which was less often than you might think when you cut through the banalities and platitudes meaning he never followed through the logic of his position and copied Michael Douglas in “Falling Down”.

    Sadly the only potential personality left in Lagan Valley is “Plug” Poots- though his attempts at being a statesman are worryingly dull and earnest. And there are now none in Alliance. Sorry IJP- discrimination in your choice of football team won’t hack it.

  • Realist

    Yes Seamus was in for the long haul and a great self-publicist. Yet he never had an advice centre in Lisburn town – his wife was on the payroll, working from home.
    Lunn is a bad choice – sucked up to DUP after last election to get DEp Mayor’s chain. He will be hoping he doesn’t run into a former neighbour in the course of his campaign.