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McCallister not to stand in election

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

McCallister not to stand in election thumbnailFORMER South Down MLA John McCallister

FORMER South Down MLA John McCallister will not stand for election next month, writes Louise McDowell.

His announcement silences speculation that the Glascar man would attempt to win back the Assembly seat he lost last year.

The decision is "a personal choice based on timing" and he has not ruled out the possibility of standing in the next council elections.

“I have spoken to many people and can now say that I am not going to be a candidate in the election," Mr McCallister said.

Just last month, Mr McCallister had not decided whether to put his name in the hat for this snap election.

However, the father-of-three said yesterday (Monday) that he has recently got involved in a few projects and the timing did not suit.

While he is not putting his name forward for these elections, he admits he would be "quite keen for a run at council in a few years".

Mr McCallister was first elected to the Assembly in 2007 as a UUP MLA and re-elected in 2011. However in February 2013, he resigned from the UUP and co-founded the NI21 party with Basil McCrea.

He later resigned from NI21 in 2014 amid an internal dispute and sat as an Independent. He then lost his seat in the Assembly elections in May 2016.

Mr McCallister said he "wished all who are standing well" and he would "encourage the electorate to come out and vote".

Mr McCallister says that he still believes devolution and not direct rule is the way to go for Northern Ireland.

“At least with devolution you have that local accountability, which can be seen by the fact that we are having these elections.

“Direct rule is fine but it will make mistakes as well," said Mr McCallister.

“I would remind voters to vote for the values that best reflect their views. I do hope that people across South Down realise the importance of this election and that devolution is the best way for Northern Ireland."

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