David Ford said: “I am delighted to welcome Oran to the Alliance Party. I have worked closely with him in Antrim Council for twelve years and recognise his role as a hard-working representative of Antrim Town and the whole Borough. He has taken a particular interest in environmental matters and he shares our values.”
Cllr Oran Keenan said: “I strongly believe in the core values of the Alliance Party and the positive work they are doing. Northern Ireland must shed its tribal colours and work towards tackling the real issues that concern the public.
“My focus is on improving our health service and our education system, and I want to increase employment opportunities and boost social housing in the area. Politics today should be about helping those affected during the downturn, and Alliance provides the best platform for addressing this vitally important issue.
“I work as a community mental health nurse with the Northern Trust and I work closely with the voluntary and statutory agencies. I believe that mental health services have often been sacrificed to save money, and extra funding is essential to meet the needs of society today, particularly given the very negative impact the downturn has had on many people’s wellbeing.
“This is an exciting time for Alliance. We are moving forward strongly, as more and more people realise that tribal politics does not improve people’s everyday lives. It’s time Northern Ireland changed for the better and I believe that Alliance has the vision to deliver this change.
“I hope to continue working closely with my previous colleagues in the SDLP and I believe that constructive politics is the only way forward.”
Cllr Alan Lawther, Leader of the Alliance Group in Antrim Council: “This is a real boost to the growing Alliance team of elected representatives in the locality. Oran is an excellent representative for all the people in his electoral area and his drive to protect the environment and build community relations is to be admired. People are realising that Alliance is the party that works for everyone and the party that will deliver a genuinely shared future.
Newtownabbey Alliance Councillor Lynn Frazer said: “I have worked with Oran in his role as co-Chair of the Antrim/Newtownabbey Transition Committee. He has a very good grasp of strategic issues and is clearly dedicated to the welfare of all the people in the new district.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Cllr Oran Keenan has represented Antrim Town electoral area since 1985. Formerly a member of the SDLP, he has sat as an independent in recent years. He was Mayor of the Borough in 2008/09 and took a strong lead in fostering good relations in the wake of the Massereene Barracks murders.
He has worked as Chair of both the Environmental Services and Community Planning committees on the council and has also served as Deputy Mayor. Outside of politics, he has been a mental health nurse for over three decades.
Cllr Keenan represents the third local government gain for Alliance since the last council elections. Cllr Barney Fitzpatrick won a by-election in Coleraine and Cllr Billy Webb joined us in Newtownabbey.
Oran is also the third senior figure to join the party in the past two years who had been involved with another party. First, Andrew Muir, former SDLP Chair of North Down Association defected to us, then Cllr Billy Webb left the Newtownabbey Ratepayers Association to join us, and now Oran is joining.