Kellie – who at 43 is the same age as the Party she is now elected to represent – is well known in the Newtownards and Peninsula area, having run PACT (Peninsula Community Transport) for a number of years, a scheme providing local access solutions for 100s of people living in the area.
Now Northern Ireland Director with the national charity Community Transport Association, Kellie says she is “saddened” by long-time friend Kieran McCarthy’s decision to step down, but is “excited” for the challenges ahead.
Issues high on her agenda include working to improve mobile phone and broadband issues, working with Roads Service to ensure rural roads are properly maintained, seeking employment opportunities and investment for the area and working to break down the barriers between communities – building a better, shared society for everyone.
Kieran McCarthy will remain an MLA for Strangford.
Cllr Kellie Armstrong said: “I am extremely saddened by Kieran’s departure. Not only has he worked extremely hard and has helped 1000s of people during his 28-years of service, but he has also been a good friend and mentor to me.
“I live on the Peninsula and know how difficult life can be due to loss of employment , increased costs for travel to work and childcare and difficulty accessing services. I believe the upper Ards Peninsula is at risk of being isolated as many services and employment opportunities are centred in large towns.
“But I also appreciate the community spirit, the local connections and support in the area. Peninsula people are warm, friendly and supportive and I am extremely proud to be representing Alliance for everyone living in the area.
“Peninsula people are warm and friendly, something I have been very aware of growing up in the area. During the late 70s/early 80s many people came together to help raise funds and provide support to my family as we aimed to send my brother Michael who has a learning disability to a brain development institute in America. In becoming a Councillor I feel this is now my opportunity to actively thank and work hard for all those who were kind to my family in the past.
“I want to develop further the opportunities gained through the Good Friday Agreement. We have a more peaceful society, but a society where division still detracts money and investment into services we all want to see improved, including health, education, transport and employment.
“I will take this new opportunity to take over Kieran’s role, providing a new voice for our community and representing our people as we move towards a new shared future.”
Kieran McCarthy MLA said: “I am extremely delighted that my long-held Council seat will be going to some as capable as Kellie Armstrong. She has the know-how and ability to serve the people of the Peninsula well. I know can trust Kelly to continue to lead change with the Alliance Party in the area for many years to come.”