THE Alliance Party has selected Margaret Mathews to run in the upcoming bye-election in Larne Lough.
Mrs Mathews, who has worked as a dentist for 30 years in the Larne area, said she is looking forward to the challenge of running for election for the first time.
Speaking after her selection, Mrs Mathews said: “While Larne is a growing borough, it faces many challenges. At a time when the Assembly is out of action, councillors have an added responsibility when representing the electorate. I believe that the people of Larne deserve someone who cares strongly about their area and knows their needs.
“Larne needs councillors capable of representing the whole community. There are quite simply too many bead and butter issues affecting Larne to allow sectarian bickering to dominate local politics. What is needed is effective leadership.”
Mrs Mathews is the Secretary of the Ulster Women’s Art Association and belongs to art groups in Larne and Whitehead. A mother of three grown-up children, she also serves as a community defibrilator volunteer in Islandmagee on rota call, helping save cardiac arrest victims’ lives.
Among the issues important to Mrs Mathews are saving Larne’s railways, waste management and restoration of the Market Yard in the town.
“I share an interest with my husband, Alderman John Mathews, in the future of the rail service in the Larne area. It is under threat from a government that does not seem to understand the benefits of rail at a time when our roads are more congested than ever. It is difficult to see how we can maintain increasing traffic on our already busy roads, so for the government to consider mothballing the line linking Belfast city to a major port is short-termism at its worst.
“We need to see improvements to the Larne line, not proposals to close it, and that means sustained campaigning on this crucial matter.
“As well as the rail network, the environment is an area where councillors have a vital role to play. As environmental laws start to take greater effect, we are going to have to get much more serious about recycling. Alliance played its role in opposing the Magheramorne superdump, but if we don’t want the threat of landfills outside our houses, we are going to have to educate ourselves and take real responsibility for waste.
“Planning is another area where councillors have a significant input, and I want to ensure that we balance development and the environment fairly. We have a beautiful countryside, and I want to ensure that we protect as much green space as we can. Developers cannot ride roughshod over the wishes of communities, and that means making sure local opinion is taken into account properly.
“The community needs a representative that is prepared to make their case for them, and to help them get their voice heard where it really matters. Alliance has a good record in Larne, and I intend to build upon the strength that allowed us to take a seat in the last local elections that few thought was attainable.”
Alliance Party Leader David Ford MLA added: “I am delighted that Margaret has decided to run for Alliance. She is an excellent candidate and has worked with John on many issues. I know that Margaret shares our vision of building a united community, and will work hard for everyone in her constituency, not just one section.”