​TODAY’s Local Government elections could very well make history in the ABC borough, with Sinn Féin fielding 16 candidates – they currently have 10 sitting councillors – in a clear bid to become the largest party locally.

​Although still unionist-dominated to a degree, the ABC Council is totally unique in Northern Ireland in that it has no clear-cut majority population.

Nowhere else in Northern Ireland are the two main communities, as denoted by religious affiliation, as evenly balanced, with 41.04% of residents identifying as Catholics in the 2021 NI Census, and 41.73% professing affiliation to one of the Protestant denominations.

The DUP (11 sitting councillors) and UUP (10) are almost on a par, and both parties are also hoping to gain the upper hand within unionism, with the DUP fielding 15 candidates, and the UUP 12.

The SDLP are hoping to remain a strong political force within nationalism, and they are fielding nine candidates. They currently have six sitting councillors.

Clearly hoping to make significant gains are Alliance (seven candidates, three sitting councillors) and the TUV (no elected representatives, four candidates). Aontú have one candidate too.

In the Banbridge DEA, the candidates are Glenn Barr (UUP), Ian Burns (UUP), Seamus Doyle (SDLP), Joy Ferguson (Alliance), Paul Greenfield (DUP), Jill Macauley (UUP), Chris McCartan (SF), Brian Moorhead (TUV), Kevin Savage (SF) and Ian Wilson (DUP). That’s 10 candidates for seven seats.

Lagan River DEA: Mark Baxter (DUP), Oisín Edwards (SDLP), Jessica Johnston (Alliance), Vincent McAleenan (SF), Tim McClelland (DUP), Sammy Morrison (TUV), Sammy Ogle (UUP), Paul Rankin (DUP), Kyle Savage (UUP). That’s nine candidates for five seats.

Cusher DEA: Paul Berry (Independent), Bróna Haughey (SF), Gordon Kennedy (UUP), Emma Jayne McKernan (SDLP), Ewan McNeill (UUP), Keith Ratcliffe (TUV), Mark Skillen (Alliance), Philip Weir (DUP), Gareth Wilson (DUP). That’s nine candidates for five seats.

The other DEAs are Armagh, Craigavon, Portadown. Total electorate: 155,625.