‘Democracy’ challenge will not distract says DUP man

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A Dromore councillor says last week’s challenge by locally-based party ‘Democracy First’ will not distract him in terms of serving the town and its people.

The DUP’s Alderman Paul Rankin was responding to Democracy First’s Frazer McCammond, who claimed significant local disaffection with the political landscape and those who currently inhabit it.

Spurred on by the latest Stormont crisis, the former Alliance councillor called on people, regardless of faith or allegiance, to volunteer as potential election candidates in service of Democracy First’s goal to “consign the relics of the past, to the past”.

Established in Dromore ahead of 2014’s local government elections, Democracy First, he said, was born of a cross-community concensus lamenting the quality of political leadership in Northern Ireland, where an increasing number of people choose to spoil their vote or don’t vote at all.

Mr Rankin, however, said that despite all of the obstacles and the currrent crisis, much had been achieved politically.

“I have had the privilege,” he said, “of representing the Dromore area since May 2000 on the local council and I have worked hard to represent my constituents and address the many local issues of concern.

“I have been rewarded for my efforts by being re-elected on four occasions since then, in 2001, 2005, 2011 and 2014 and have topped the poll in the Dromore area.

“Politics is not an easy role; it can be immensely frustrating and the wheels of democracy turn slowly.

“Despite all of the obstacles, since 2007 we have had the longest period of unbroken devolved government in Northern Ireland. “Much has been achieved, despite all of the criticism and the present difficulties. Of course, we would all like to see improvements to the present devolved institutions, but this will only come about with agreement and buy-in from both of the communities in Northern Ireland.

“The present talks taking place are aimed at resolving some of the problem issues, such as the budgetry/fiscal problems and the continued existence of paramilitaries. To that end my party has my full support.

“I always say to critics of myself and my party, if they think they can do a better job, then stand for election and show us. “‘Democracy first’ stood in the last council election in 2014 and the people gave their verdict. If they wish to put forward candidates in any future elections that is a matter for them, but that will not distract me or my party colleagues from seeking the best outcomes for the people in Dromore on the council and the DUP, as Northern Ireland’s largest party, will continue to seek to keep Northern Ireland moving forward.”