Slugger Awards: what makes a good councillor?

The front runners in the councillor of the year award so far… Cara McShane currently Chair of Moyle District Council; Councillor Walter Cuddy, UUP councillor for Dungannon town; the SDLP’s PJ McAvoy in Ballymena; the DUP’s Adrian McQuillan in Coleraine; Sinn Fein’s Lord Mayor of Belfast last year Tom Hartley and his party colleague Conor Maskey. Matthew McDermott of the SDLP on Lisburn City Council. UUPs Alderman Michael Copeland from Castlereagh Borough Council. UUP veteran politician at various levels, Jim Speers. Michael Carr, of the SDLP in Newry and Mourne. Cllr Ian Parsley newly Conservative Councillor for Holywood. Sitting Councillor of the Year, Deirdre Nelson whose also move to the Conservatives. There’s also a nomination for ex councillor Domhnall O’Cobhthaigh of Fermanagh District. Naomi Long for her energetic role as Lord Mayor of Belfast. But of all the contributions this was the most challenging:

A good Councillor should be hard working, honest, and not be too ambitious. They should have the ordinary person’s needs at heart.

Party politics should not take precedent over common sense.

A good Councillor will not care about getting into photos and hearing themselves talk at meetings just to be seen in the press. They should only speak if they have something to contribute to a discussion – they should not be repeating what four or five other Councillors have already said. They should not care if one Councillor has taken on a particular issue that they may be getting some glory for – jealousy should not come into the work of Public Representatives but it too often does.

Councillors are public servants – they should be working for the people as best they can. They should not be feathering their own nest or that of their party or party colleagues. They should take into account and accept other people’s opinions. Respect for the way others do things is important.

I am a Councillor and I have seen it all since I was elected. Jealousy and ambition play too much of a part. I dont know many Councillors, or people who would like to be a Public Representative, who is genuinely there for the people and not just for themselves.

A few are there for the right reasons – I hope I am one of them although I am prepared to accept I am not if my Constituents feel different.

The Councillor of the Year should be someone who we can genuinely see as having made an impact in their own community in however long they have been elected. Many dont shout about what they do from the rooftops – this doesnt mean they dont regularly work hard within their community. PR is a wonderful thing and many representatives (and parties) are very good at using it.

If anyone can name a Councillor who fits the bill I will happily give them my vote.

  • michael

    I notice no members of Derry City Council have been included in the tentative shortlist? A pronouncement of their handling of the City of Derry Airport debacle perhaps? Or the debacle over the civic amenity sites? Take your pick.

  • Mick Fealty

    Maybe. It’s a large gap in the line up. Though I am really pleased with the numbers named beyond the Belfast bubble.

  • austin

    Reading the criteria set out above, one name from Down District Council ticked all the boxes.-Billy Walker of the DUP, who represents Killyleagh and the Rowallane area. Billy champions the rights of the ordinary working people of the area on a daily basis.
    Although blunt and straight to the point, he also has a well-tuned political antenna and knows how to be conciliatory and fair, when circumstances are right.
    Equally, when necessary,he can also appear suitably outraged at public meetings in order to play to the gallery to keep his core vote on-side.
    Although I am from a non-unionist background, I like the fact that Billy can deliver a well-aimed working class boot up the posteriors of his more affluent unionist colleagues when his blood is up.
    To sum up,he’s a bit of a character, warts and all.

  • Mark McGregor

    Feck it. I’d not nominate him for anything at Stormont or the larger stage but I’ve come across a lot of Cllrs in my time and Cllr Thomas Burns MLA does the job perfect. His focus is greater Crumlin and anyone in the area involved in anything will have come across him. He will be at your meeting, your fundraiser, your dog’s burial, you club event. He will join any campaign and only step back when he has talked himself into a court case by supporting it. He is pure parish pump and he does it bloody well.

    As a former shinner I thought I knew knock your pan in Council work and was convinced the SDLP had no notion of it until I saw this whirlwind.

    MLA stakes I’d not nominate him for 107th, when it come to his council/community work he is a class act.

    (thats a pint you owe me Burns!)

  • granni trixie

    re IJP: You haven a laf?

  • hastalavictoria

    On the Derry City Council front, I’d nominate Cllr John Tierney. I think he probably rubs a lot of people up the wrong way but he works incredibly hard in housing provision in Derry, all over Derry he’s known as someone who can sort your problems out and he’s involved in the Bogside’s Dove House Commmunity Trust.

  • Mark McGregor

    On Burns – I’ll always remember a tale, supposedly coming from Jim Gibney (either directly or made up while I was pissed) of turning up at a burial outside Crumlim on a wet, wet day after many wet days and the grave being full of water. After much delay and discussion people look round to see Tommy Burns in the freshly dug grave bailing it out with a bucket.

    Is this true? No idea. Great story though.

  • John Johnston

    Cllr Ian McCrea from Cookstown District Council should be considered as a frontrunner as he has proved to be the main voice of Unionism in the Cookstown area. He has helped me with a number of planning issues and helped my brother and his partner to get a house when no other councillor was able to. He works fulltime for everyone and should be considered.

  • BOM

    This was my contribution and yes it is the most challenging. I would happily nominate someone if I thought that there was someone that fit the bill.

    Unfortunately I cannot think of anyone and this is extremely disappointing.

    I dont even pretend myself as a Councillor to truly fit the bill although I do try my best most of the time. (Its been a difficult year with many other priorities for me)

    Can anyone truly say that any public representative represents what they are supposed to represent – including those named above?

    Mick I am unsure as to the worthiness of this award and the award for the best MLA. I really cannot think of anyone who truly deserves the honour at this present moment in time!?

  • EastBelfastShiningLight

    Again I remind you of the hard work and dedication of Alderman Michael Copeland who works all hours of the day for his constituents.

    I contend that Michael richly deserves this award.