Retro: Mrs Paisley tops polls as city council stalwart is defeated (1967)

There were Belfast City Council elections during this week in 1967, reported the News Letter, when Mrs Eileen Paisley, wife of the Reverend Ian Paisley, topped the poll in St George’s Ward.

And Sir Cecil McKee, a member of the Corporation for more than 30 years, lost the aldermanship of St Anne’s ward to a Unionist candidate.

Mrs Paisley’s success, however, did not produce again for the Protestant Unionists, as Mr James McCarroll, a retiring councillor, lost his seat. The man to have ousted Sir Cecil was Mr James Stewart, a shopkeeper. He attracted 3,311 votes, and had a majority of 1,253.

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The Unionist Party gained five seats to give them a total of 44 members out of 86 and the NI Labour Party with 28 candidates in the field had their representation reduced from six to two, one of whom was an alderman who was not to retire until 1970.

The Reverend Dr Ian Paisley with his wife Eileen, daughter Sharon and shy grand-daughter Lydia at the Free Presbyterian Church's 40th anniversary celebrations at the King's Hall in March 1991. Picture: News Letter archives

The Republican Labour Party had eight candidates and they won eight seats - an increase of three.

Sir Cecil McKee had this to say after his shock defeat: “It was an interesting experiment fighting the entire Unionist machine – with its hosts of canvassers, tally rooms, cars, agents and bands.

“I fought them entirely as a lone wolf.

“While I am disappointed not to have won. I am quite happy to retire. I have enjoyed every moment in the corporation and have made many friends, but I now will have more time to: devote to myself and my relaxing hobbies.”

A cheering, singing crowd of about 300 people waited in May Street on the night of the election count, waiting on the result of the St George’s election from the Clarence Place Hall that saw Mrs Paisley elected to the city council.

And when it was announced they chanted: “We want Paisley – we want Paisley.”

The Reverend Ian Paisley, who was in the counting room, led about 50 people in singing hymns and the National Anthem when the result was announced.