The Slugger Awards 2008: Local Councillor of the year

This award is one that Slugger has a bit of a backstory with this year. Wisely or otherwise, this site has taken to the promotion of local councillors with some relish. We’ve endorsed the project and we’ve started running a regular ‘councillor of the week’ feature, and our next one is probably overdue.

For all of the reasons set out in our earlier award post about ‘Up and Coming Politician of the Year’ – the 2011 changes, the smaller number of councillors that will be needed, the wider representation and the new powers they will exercise – Northern Ireland is in a unique position in that it could see the quality of local democracy improve significantly over the next few years.

Councillors are central to that. In the past, it could be said in some cases that they were selected for a narrow sectarian appeal. This is less and less the case and the 2011 changes should change that further.

Councillors are often seen as a parochial lot. The ambitious ones may have more to say about the big issues in Stormont or beyond, and are clearly jockeying for something grander. This award is all about finding examples of good solid local councillors – ones that are good communicators, good at asserting the public interest over that of officialdom, and ones that have something to say about local issues beyond the briefings of their parties.

This may mean that they are more interested in expressing themselves in terms that seem to be parochial as well. We’re looking for examples of good initiatives, effective interventions, or straightforward dedication to community work. It is only through the promotion of effective legitimate local councillors that Northern Ireland can step away from the dominance that some so-called ‘community representatives’ exercise.

Of the 582 councillors we currently have, a fair number of them are awaiting for the RPA changes to retire them. You can probably get a fair idea of the ones that intend to stay on after 2011 by looking at which ones have established one of those websites that we’ve been promoting – here.

Usual award rules apply here – positive comments please. A few commenters have felt a bit constricted by our relentless deletion of negativity here – and some of the complaints about this are understandable. But let me let you into a secret. If we hadn’t applied this rule, any positive comments would have been entirely crowded out in each thread. It would not be possible to achieve what we’re doing here without a bit of monitoring.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    On this one, I’ll happily concede that there are good and bad councillors. It spice things up a little if people choose a good councillor from a party other than the one they naturally support. Perhaps people might want to deliberately choose two, including one from “the other side”. Just a thought. I’m off to give this a little thought. (seriously!)

  • Blackmouth

    Party other than that which I support: Naomi Long

    Party that I support: May Campbell – a good hard worker in Pottinger Ward

  • Mick Fealty

    Excellent suggestion BJ! Reasons for your choice will help too!

  • Blackmouth


    Since being elected May Campbell has leafleted her entire council ward lots of times, drumming up busniess and make herself available to constituents 24/7.

  • big gob

    i live in pottinger – may campbell does work very hard. got lots of stuff from her since moving here.

    used to live in laganbank where the councillors where piss poor.

  • saán

    I live in Pottinger myself, I have never heard of May Campbell, neither has she leafleted my home once, nevermind lots of times. Anymore information would be greatly appreciated.

  • big gob


    i’ve got 2 sets of contact details from cllr campbell since i moved into Pottinger Ward.

  • joseph

    I am also from the Pottinger Ward (Short Strand to be precise) and I can assure you May Campbell has never leafleted this part of her constituency, I’m not even sure what political party she represents???

    That’s not to say of course she won’t leaflet the area in the future, she just hasn’t thus far.

    The only person we have in the Short Strand (although unelected as yet) is the local SF rep Niall Ó Donnghaile, he’s a great worker locally and has been building himself a decent profile, although I suppose it helps that he’s actually from the community.

    He held his own on Good Morning Ulster with Michael Copeland this morning and made a wee boy out of Robin Newton last week on Nolan re the Mountpottinger Barracks.

  • san

    big gob, thats two more than I have. Can you post them???

  • big gob


    do you need a Councillors assistance?

  • san

    Not currently but it would be nice to know what my options are.

  • Blackmouth


    Aye because she’d get out alive if she tried to leaflet that part of her constituency.

  • Máirseáil Uí Néil


    There seems to be a fair amount of people from potinger who read slugger cuz i am too.

    I googled may campbell cuz i too am from the strand and have never heard tell of the woman, with all due respect to her.

    firstly though just because she may not get a vote in strand doesn’t mean she doesn’t have be actively represent them. she is elected a cllr for the consituency.

    there are such marvelous things as post and the internet, although if she’s anything like her fellow cllr margaret mckensie she would ‘never set foot in the short strand’ (her words, all be them mumbled, at a recent dpp meeting)

  • big gob


    maybe a text message would suit you. seems to be the language you work with.

  • joseph

    What do you mean by that Blackmouth???

  • Máirseáil Uí Néil

    Big Gob,

    it’s an option, lots of people are doing it plus it is a good way for cllrs to update people and/or make them aware of their constituency services. i mean most people have phones now so why not?!!

  • big gob


    that one went way over your head didn’t it….

  • Máirseáil Uí Néil


    feel bad now

    i don’t know why but the name i use isn’t coming up correctly, it’s Máirseáil Uí Néil but it isn’t recognising the fadas

    anyway, we seem to have drifted pretty much off topic; but i do stand over the point re text messaging as well as other imaginative ways of interacting with people as normally most people will throw a leaflet that comes through their door straight in the bin

  • Norton

    If you’re going to be rude to people about their use of language Big Gob, then you should at least ensure that do not leave out question marks where they are required. Prick.

  • big gob



  • Regina Wee

    Party I support: Cllr. Conor Maskey (Oldpark, Belfast)

    Party I don’t support: Cllr. William Humphrey (Court)

    Cllr. Pam Barr (Ballyclare)

    Cllr. Noreen Mc Clelland (Antrim Line)

  • austin

    Had some constituencey dealings with the Pottinger councillors. May Campbell is a nice, inoffensive lady but I do not think that she merits the Slugger crown.
    In terms of the party I support, I would say Fra McCann. From the opposing camp and overall winner, it has to be Bob Stoker from the Village who does a helluva lot of work for that area-from the bread and butter stuff through to the bigger picture of gaining much-needed regeneration for that area.

  • Brian Oates

    Party I support: Alex Easton – hard worker, good with the community assocs

    Party I don’t support: Ian Parsley – always makes well thought out points (and great name)

  • Dean Amose

    Cllr. James Tinsley (Killultagh, Lisburn CC)

  • IJP

    Not so sure about that Parsley chap, Brian – he’s all talk if you ask me…!

  • Private Eye

    Diane Peacock.

    She has done a lot regarding car parks.

  • austin

    Mick, no consensus on this one , so why don’t we go for a penalty shoot-out type decider?

    Why not give the slugger crown to the first councillor who appears on the local news complaining about the flooding. Extra points for any cllr. who is seen steering a boat down a side street or helping to carry a soggy pensioner to safety?
    I’ll get me coat..

  • deirdre nelson

    Party I don’t support- PJ McAvoy, Ballymena. PJ’s a solid long-standing locla councillor who’s raison d’etre is the improvement of his borough and mostly leaves out the politics. He’s been deputy mayor a couple of times and is well thought of throughout the community as far as I can tell. Michael Carr, Newry and Mourne for the same reason- solid locsl councillor.

    Party I support is a bit harder cos I’m going to offend someone whoever I pick!! Discretion may well be the better part of valour here;-)

  • nilad

    I think Colin McGrath of the SDLP should be recognised. He’s young, has brought down the age profile of DDC Councillors by about 20 years and works hard. His Councillor website is informative and up to date with a cool video diary which if not professional is at least honest and an attempt to get info to the electorate. Also he is the vice chair of the sdlp and always battles for young people and inclusion and finally is the Chairman of Down District Council in his first term as a councillor. That’s a pretty impressive cv for one so young.

  • barnshee

    ” Wisely or otherwise, this site has taken to the promotion of local councillors with some relish”

    Good news is no news –if you want to have a vibrant thread have a competition for the councillor who can be nominated as biggest arsehole of the year

  • emerald

    in my opinion Deirdre Nelson, in ballymena is an excellent candidate for this award she is an intelligent and articulate councillor who epitomises all the best reasons to support more women in politics

  • Ards

    Based purely on performance I would nominate Jim Shannon (Ards Borough Council). He doesn’t get many or really any headlines but he is busy 24/7 running around helping people.

    I’d be surprised if anyone from the Ards Borough Council area would disagree.

    Close runner up Kieran McCarthy, also Ards who also works bloody hard for his constituents.

  • Katie McKenna

    Finding myself agreeing with the postings supporting Ballymena councillors – both PJ McAvoy and D Nelson have done a lot of hard work. And think should include Daithi McKay and Paudy McShane – always very visible especially in Dunclug and not even Ballymena Councillors (think both Ballymoney?) Declan O’Loan and Monica Digney add to the bunch – definate improvements in community reps around here. Still think we could do with younger SDLP reps in Ballymena – is there no-one on the horizon?

  • RedMole

    Matthew McDermott from the SDLP has been impressive
    and that Ian J. Parsley (All.) fellow has done alright for a liberal 🙂
    Hugh Smyth (PUP) I’ve heard has done good work

  • PSNI i love you

    I’d like to nominate the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Tom Hartley for the work he is doing as our Lord Mayor and also the work he has done in the city cemetery in research and in getting people back into the cemetery again to preserve this wonderful place of heritage.

  • Nice post. I couldn’t really care less, they all seem to have similar ideas.