Six candidates have been selected by the Alliance Party to stand in the local council elections in May 2011 for Ards Borough Council. They are:
Linda Cleland Ards East
Alan McDowell Ards Town
Kieran McCarthy and Kellie Armstrong Ards Peninsula
Jim McBriar and Deborah Girvan Ards West
Alliance Leader David Ford said: “Over the past few years, the membership of the Strangford Alliance Association has been growing steadily and we are delighted that we have such a high calibre of talented people standing for in Ards Council elections.
“I am confident that this hardworking and diverse team of youth and experience will, each one of them, be returned come election day and I wish them every success in their campaign.”
Three current Alliance councillors, Kieran McCarthy, Jim McBriar and Alan McDowell are hoping to retain their seats and will be joined by newcomers, Deborah Girvan from Comber and Kellie Armstrong from Cloughy. Linda Cleland a former Alliance Councillor from Newtownards will be fighting to win back Ards East.
Notes to Editors – Biographies of candidates
Biography for Kieran McCarthy
Kieran was born in Kircubbin and is married with two daughters and two sons. He is an MLA and has been an Ards Councillor since 1985. He is Alliance Party Chief Whip and is Alliance Spokesperson on Health and Social Services, Agriculture and Culture, Arts and Leisure.
A member of the Assembly’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee and Agriculture Committee, Kieran McCarthy has worked for the introduction of measures to eradicate sectarianism in sport.
Kieran has worked to ensure that the needs of the elderly are kept high on the political agenda. He has led the campaign to end age discrimination and for free nursing and personal care for older people.
Planning issues are also important to Kieran, who is working to ensure a balance is struck between the need for new housing in the Strangford constituency and the need to protect the environment and the local coastline.
Biography for Kellie Armstrong
Kellie Armstrong (nee McGrattan from Ballygalget), lives at Ballygelagh, is married to Barry and they have a daughter. She is the Director of the Northern Ireland Community Transport Association, and she sits on the National Inclusive Mobility Transport Advisory Committee.
She works with community groups including Cloughey & District ,Ballyhalbert Community Association, Portaferry Gala Committee and fundraises for Kircubbin Integrated, Kirkistown and St Patricks Ballygalget Primary schools.
Kellie works with the Older Person’s Advocate on transport solutions and supports the work of the Rural Community Network’s Skills for Solutions programme. She successfully challenged Ards Borough Council’s proposal to remove rural playgrounds at Tullymally and Rubane. The Council has since retained and improved both play areas. Kellie worked on the Children’s Somme Garden in Cloughey, a shared space enjoyed by the whole community.
Kellie has provided advice and support to community enterprises including child care businesses, farm diversification projects, transport and start ups in the Peninsula.
She is an advocate for carers and the rights of people with disabilities.
Kellie cares about nature and our environment. Having planted over 300 trees and created a wildlife sanctuary, Kellie has also fought to retain public rights to land along our coastline. She was part of the team who successfully stopped the sale of public land along the Cloughey shoreline to ensure coastal spaces remain free of unsightly developments that detract from both the environmental and beauty of our sea coast.
Biography for Alan McDowell
Alan lives and works in Newtownards, is married with three children and a grandchild. He has served Newtownards as a Councillor since 1993 and was privileged to be elected as the Mayor of Ards during 1999/2000.
Alan has served as Chairman on all major Ards Borough Council Committees and on two occasions was elected chairman of the Ards District Policing Partnership.
He is active in economic development and he currently is Vice Chairman of the Council’s Economic Development Committee, and is a voluntary Director in Ards Business Centre.
Alan is also a Director of Ards Strategic Partnership and Governor of the North Down & Ards Institute.
Biography for Linda Cleland
Linda Cleland is a single mother of two grown up boys, and a grandmother and she served Ards East for eight years as a Councillor.
During that time Linda helped people with housing, planning issues and stopping anti social activities. Linda has committed to voluntary work all her adult life, working with Meals on Wheels, VSB, Homestart, helped form a Community Association in her estate and works with the ARC (Alcoholics Recovery club) to help the homeless and outcasts. She has acted as Chair, Secretary and treasurer in various groups.
Linda works in the Alliance Constituency office helping people with welfare rights. She previously worked in Lisbane as the Community Worker and Co-ordinator for LLCA, helping to manage the Community Centre and acquire funding.
Linda worked for Portaferry Regeneration Ltd for nine years, managing the Barholm hostel, Brewery Yard Business Park and the Marina. She successfully acquired funding to allow the massive refurbishment of Barholm, bringing it up to modern day standards but yet keeping its Victorian charm.
Biography for Jim McBriar
Jim has been an Ards West councillor for 38 years and was Mayor of Ards in 1983 and 2003. He is one of the most experienced councillors in Northern Ireland. A retired farmer, he is married with three grown-up children and grandchildren.
Jim is on the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, is a founder Director of the Ards Business Centre and a founder member of Ards Arts Committee.
He is Chairman of the Strangford Lough Management Committee, serves Ards on the Rivers Agency. He is very interested in preserving Strangford Lough and its shores by good environmental management.
Jim has campaigned to deliver the second part of the bypass in Comber and will continue to work for the third phase. Jim’s efforts at Islandhill have secured an upgrading of the facilities available. As Chair of the District Policing Partnership he has supported having more police on the streets and measures to address antisocial behaviour.
Deborah has lived in Comber most of her life. She has been a member of the Alliance Party since 2005 and is currently chair of the Strangford Association of the party.
A former Physical Education teacher, she taught in Rupert Stanley College of Further Education in East Belfast for 20 years before being appointed Marketing Officer at the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education in 1991.
Deborah’s interest in active politics began when she was appointed Communications and Lobbying Manager for the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education in September 2000. She is no stranger to political campaigns as she was selected to run as the Alliance Westminster candidate in recent General Elections in May 2010.