Antrim and Newtownabbey’s newly-elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor are ‘role models’

Antrim and Newtownabbey’s deputy mayor was elevated to the role of first citizen at the borough council’s AGM on Wednesday night.

Threemilewater DUP Councillor Stephen Ross was proposed as mayor by nominating officer party colleague Councillor Matthew Magill.

The new Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey is Antrim Ulster Unionist Councillor Leah Smyth.

Cllr Magill told elected members that Cllr Ross, who was elected to the local authority in 2014, is “known as a hard worker and very much as a community man who is known for his record on delivery”.

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    The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Stephen Ross and the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Leah Smyth.

    “He has a good working relationship with colleagues across the chamber and a a good working relationship with staff.”

    Cllr Ross said: “I am absolutely delighted to be taking over this role. I am delighted and humbled to be sitting here as mayor of this great council. I thank my DUP colleagues for trusting me with this responsibility.

    “It is emotional and heart-warming for me to take the role in this building. I am really proud to be your mayor.”

    He went on to pay tribute to his partner Paula, sons Euan and Joseph, parents and step-parents who were present at the meeting at Mossley Mill in Newtownabbey.

    Ulster Unionist group leader Alderman Mark Cosgrove said that both the new mayor and deputy mayor are “role models who can show anybody what can be achieved”.

    Alliance group leader Antrim Councillor Neil Kelly said he believed that the new mayor would do “an exceptional job”.

    Sinn Fein group leader Glengormley Councillor Michael Goodman said that he has known Cllr Ross since they were community workers, working on community relations in Glengormley.

    He added: “I think this coming year as mayor will be a trying time but it will be a trying time for all of us given the wider political issues surrounding us.

    “I want to wish him well for the coming year. He will have my support and the support of my party in the delivery of his role as mayor of the borough.”

    SDLP group leader Antrim Councillor Roisin Lynch told Cllr Ross: “I know you will bring your own special gifts and experience to this role for the benefit of us all. You have put in a lot of hard work as deputy mayor.”

    Nominating Cllr Smyth as deputy mayor, Ald Cosgrove said that his party colleague, a past pupil of Antrim Grammar School, Ulster University politics graduate and mother-of-two, has made a “tremendous  impact” since her election three years ago.

    Cllr Smyth told the meeting that she is “very fortunate” to work alongside Steve Aiken MLA in his constituency office in Ballyclare.

    “I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many people who encourage and motivate me at every opportunity.

    “To my partner Gary and my two beautiful girls, you are my biggest supporters.

    “I genuinely never thought I would be in this position when I was elected. To be deputy mayor is an unbelievable honour. I will be deputy mayor for everyone regardless of background.”

    Handing over the chain of office to his successor, outgoing mayor Alliance Councillor Billy Webb said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have served as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey.”

    He paid tribute to his wife Pat, whom he said, has supported him “every step of the way”.

    He went on to say that he has completed 25 years as a councillor for the Macedon electoral area.

    “During my year as mayor, I encountered such generosity and care from so many indoviduals, charities and organisations. It really was humbling. They offered so much support right across the borough.”

    Cllr Webb reported that he has attended 700 engagements and has planted 1,200 trees during his mayoral year.

    He reported that he has raised £12,000 for each of his two chosen charities – Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice and Women’s Aid plus an additional £5,000.

    He also spoke of sad occasions – the death of former colleagues and  mayors Cllr Paul Hamill, Jim Bingham and Sam Dunlop.

    He paid tribute to his Deputy Mayor Cllr Ross.

    “We very quickly gelled and finished the year as friends,” he commented.

    “I believe we have represented this borough as a partnership.”

    He proceeded to congratulate former MLA Paula Bradley on her appointment by the DUP to the council to replace Ald Phillip Brett following his election to the Assembly as an MLA for north Belfast.

    The outgoing mayor said: “I wish the deputy mayor and new mayor all the very best for the coming year. I am absolutely delighted he has taken over the role.”

    Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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