Leap from Council to Stormont for Gerry

SDLP MLA Gerry Mullan.
SDLP MLA Gerry Mullan.

The SDLP says it is in the process of filling the vacant seat formerly held by Gerry Mullan on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

The 62-year-old Limavady man was elected as MLA for the party in East Derry in the recent Assembly election, retaining the seat held for 18 years by John Dallat who has retired.

The SDLP won six seats in the local government elections in 2014, however, with Gerry Mullan now taking a seat at Stormont, the party has to find someone to replace him on Council. The ‘Journal’ understands that process needs to be complete before the Council’s AGM in June.

A spokesperson for the SDLP said it hoped to have the seat filled “in the coming weeks”.

“Following the election of Gerry Mullan to the Assembly, a vacancy has arisen on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. The party is currently accepting nominations to fill the vacancy and we hope the process can be completed in the coming weeks,” said a party spokesperson.

When asked what advice he had for his successor, the newly elected Assemblyman had this to say: “I’ll be here to help and advise my succssor and provide any benefit I can from my experience in local council over the last 16 years.

“It is a big challenge going into the new Causeway Council and I know everyone would like to have someone in there as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, the father-of-eight is getting used to the commute over the Glenshane to Stormont.

“I’m beginning to settle in and find my way around,” he said.

“It is a big leap from being a councillor but, in the short time I have been here, I am enjoying it.”

The Assemblyman, whose party leader Colum Eastwood announced yesterday the party will go into opposition, has pledged to continue working on local issues that he has been involved in including the Magilligan to Greencastle ferry and the A6.

“We made promises and we have to keep those promises,” he said.

Filling the seat vacated by John Dallat, Mr Mullan said he was aware “I have big shoes to fill, but I am accustomed to that, having taken over from Arthur Doherty in 2001 in Limavady Borough Council”.

“I think, 16 years later in politics, I have done a reasonable job and that’s why I was selected to become an MLA, he said, adding he was also going to take stock of the various Stormont committees.

The new MLA thanked his family for their support during the election campaign; John Dallat for all his support, his colleagues in the party, his election team and everyone who voted for him.”