* A total of 41 seats are up for grabs on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council with 41 seats vacant on Newry, Mourne and Down Council
* Polling day is today (Thursday) from 7am-10pm
* The big counts are in Banbridge Leisure Centre and Newry Leisure Centre will start in earnest when the first ballot boxes are opened tomorrow (Friday) from 8am running through to midnight and on Saturday (if necessary)
* This vote is a 1, 2, 3... option not an ‘X’ marks the spot. Known as the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, voters mark the candidates 1, 2, 3, etc. in order of preference, with ‘1’ for their first choice of candidate, ‘2’ for their second and so on. Voters can choose as many or as few as they like
* The annual basic allowance of £14,485 was paid to ABC councillors (from 1 April 2017-31 March 2018). This amount can be topped up by a special responsibility allowance for councillors who sit on committees and if they serve as Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor.
*A mileage claim of 46.9p can be made for car travel and occasionally meals or overnight stay costs.
CANDIDATES - The Mournes
WILL an Alliance candidate upset the apple cart for the Mournes?
Hoping to pip the others to the post next month will be Councillor Andrew McMurray, currently a councillor in the Slieve Croob area.
He has shifted areas, opting to put his name forward as a candidate for the Mournes area in the forthcoming council election. He is hoping to upset the current representation of Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP and DUP.
With a total of nine candidates standing and only seven seats, two will lose out. But will any of the seven elected in 2014 lose their seats?
Topping the poll on the last occasion was Kilkeel man, Henry Reilly. He received over 18 per cent of the vote and is standing this time as an Independent Unionist after he was expelled from UKIP in August 2017.
Also elected on the first count was the SDLP’s Laura Devlin from Castlewellan and Sinn Fein’s Willie Clarke from Newcastle.
Mourne man, Harold McKee of the UUP was elected on count two. However, he left his position as councillor when he was elected to the NI Assembly in April 2017 and Rathfriland woman Jill Macauley was co-opted to his seat.
Mr McKee is standing for the UUP once again and Councillor Macauley is hoping to get a seat on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
Meanwhile, the final two seats were gained by the SDLP’s Brian Quinn and the DUP’s Glyn Hanna from Ballymartin.
This time round Sinn Fein are hoping to get three seats with new face, Castlewellan woman Leeanne McEvoy standing.
The candidates are:
* Willie Clarke Sinn Féin
* Laura Devlin SDLP
* Sean Doran Sinn Féin
* Glyn Hanna DUP
* Leeanne McEvoy Sinn Féin
* Harold McKee UUP
* Andrew McMurray Alliance
* Brian Quinn SDLP
* Henry Reilly
CANDIDATES - Slieve Croob
JUST one of the councillors elected to represent Slieve Croob five years ago is seeking re-election.
Out of the area’s five councillors elected back in 2014, the SDLP’s Mark Murnin is the only one running again.
While two other current councillors are seeking re-election, they have been both co-opted to their positions in the past 16 months.
Last time round, Sinn Fein’s Stephen Burns topped the poll with almost 19 per cent of the vote. However he resigned from his position on 14 February last year, and Roisin Howell, who is standing, was co-opted.
Pol O’Gribin, who was elected for Sinn Fein in 2014, resigned in January 2018 and Castlewellan man John Rice was co-opted.
Sinn Fein is fielding a third candidate this time round - Drumaness woman Cathy Mason.
The DUP’s Garth Craig has announced that he does not intend to run this time round and instead hoping to get almost 15 per cent of the vote for the party in next month’s elections is Mourne man Maynard Hanna.
The final seat last time round went to Patrick Clarke from Alliance. Mr Clarke was ejected from the council in November 2016 and replaced by Andrew McMurray.
However hoping to take a seat for Alliance this time round is Gregory Bain, but he faces stiff competition from a host of new names from the UUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP and a new republican party Aontú.
Meanwhile, there’s Clough man Alan Lewis standing for the UUP, Hugh Gallagher for the SDLP, Tracy Harkin from Aontú and Cathy Mason for Sinn Fein.
Four of the following candidates will be disappointed:
* Gregory Bain Alliance
* Hugh Gallagher SDLP
* Maynard Hanna DUP
* Tracy Harkin Aontu
* Roisin Howell Sinn Féin
* Alan Lewis UUP
* Cathy Mason Sinn Féin
* Mark Murnin SDLP
* John Rice Sinn Féin
CANDIDATES - Crotlieve
Can the SDLP top the poll in Crotlieve once again and get three seats in the area?
That is the question to be answered when voters go to the polls on 2 May.
On the last occasion, the SDLP’s Declan McAteer and Michael Carr were both elected first and the party secured a third seat when Gillian Fitzpatrick was elected fifth.
Both men are standing but with Gillian taking her name out of the running, the party has replaced her with former MLA Karen McKevitt.
Sinn Féin won two seats on the last occasion with Sinead Ennis and Mickey Ruane elected to council.
However when Sinead was elected to the NI Assembly, Oskana McMahon was co-opted to replace her in April 2017.
This time, the party is fielding four candidates, with Hilltown man Gerry O’Hare and Rostrevor woman Mary Tinnelly standing alongside the two current Sinn Fein Crotlieve councillors.
The final sixth seat at the last council election went to Independent candidate Jarlath Tinnelly. Mr Tinnelly is running once again, however, with 13 candidates and only six seats, seven will miss out on representing Crotlieve for the next four years.
The other candidates include:
* Jim Boylan Independent
* Michael Carr SDLP
* Mark Gibbons Independent
* Joshua Lowry UUP
* Declan McAteer SDLP
* Wilma McCullough DUP
* Lorcan McGreevy Alliance
* Karen McKevitt SDLP
* Oksana McMahon Sinn Féin
* Gerry O’Hare Sinn Féin
* Mickey Ruane Sinn Féin
* Jarlath Tinnelly Independent
* Mary Tinnelly Sinn Féin
CANDIDATES standing for Banbridge
In the first ever council elections for the new look Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in 2014, the UUP claimed over 40 per cent of the vote in Banbridge area.
The party fielded three candidates at that time and are again putting forward three candidates.
On the voting papers on 2 May for the UUP will be Glenn Barr, Ian Burns and current Newry, Mourne and Down District Councillor Jill Macauley.
The Ballyroney mum of four is standing for Banbridge this time after veteran Alderman, Elizabeth Ingram announced her intention not to stand.
The long-standing councillor for 12 years endorsed Mrs Macauley and said now “was the right time” for her to stand down.
She said the decision was made after much consideration and will allow her a “little more free time” when she steps down from active politics in May.
Alderman Ingram, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to local government and the community in the New Year’s Honours List in 2015, was co-opted onto the former Banbridge District Council after her husband John, who was a respected Banbridge councillor, passed away.
Meanwhile, all other current councillors who represent the Banbridge area are seeking re-election including SDLP’s Seamus Doyle (pictured left), the DUP’s Paul Greenfield and Junior McCrum and Sinn Féin’s Kevin Savage.
The Banbridge electoral area covers the wards of Banbridge East, West, North and South as well as Rathfriland, Loughbrickland and Gilford.
Just shy of 50 per cent of the electorate turned out to vote on the last occasion in the Banbridge area when Junior McCrum, Seamus Doyle, Paul Greenfield and Brendan Curran were elected on the seventh count.
Brendan Curran then resigned his seat on 12 August 2016 “for health reasons” and Kevin Savage was co-opted.
*Glenn Barr UUP
*Ian Burns UUP
*Seamus Doyle SDLP
*Paul Greenfield DUP
*Jill Macauley UUP
*William Martin TUV
*Vincent McAleenan Sinn Féin
*Junior McCrum DUP
*Brian Pope Alliance
*Kevin Savage Sinn Féin