FORMER South Down MLA John McCallister has endorsed Alliance’s Patrick Brown ahead of the March 2 poll, describing him as a “credible and capable candidate.”
The Independent Unionist, who was a former member of NI21 and lost his seat following last year’s Assembly poll, said he is giving his first preference vote to Alliance and supporting the remainder of the opposition parties on the ballot paper.
Mr McCallister, who played a key role in the creation of an opposition at Stormont, said Mr Brown is the election candidate “closest to the values he would like to see in an MLA.”
He continued: “Patrick is a very credible and capable candidate. He is someone I know and I know what he stands for. If people are seriously thinking they want change then I would encourage them to vote for candidates whom they believe can deliver.”
Mr McCallister said the Assembly election is not a border poll and that if Sinn Fein ended up holding the position of First Minister, it would not change the position of the Union.
He said it is important people vote for individuals who reflect what they would like to see and believes devolution is the best thing for Northern Ireland.
Mr McCallister added: “I fought hard to get to the point where we had an opposition at Stormont. It is important to have a government held to account by a credible opposition which must look and sound like an alternative government. I will be voting for Alliance on March 2 and transferring to the parties that will make up the opposition at Stormont.”
Mr Brown has also been endorsed by independent Newry, Mourne and Down councillor, Cadogan Enright.
Mr Enright issued his endorsement while praising the part played by councillor Brown in supporting a scheme to install photo voltaic (PV) cells on the roofs of local community centres.
“Without councillor Brown’s support I could not have had the P.V. scheme passed in council for community centres like the Inverbrena in our area,” said Mr Enright. “This should be a boost to the income of the Strangford Hall going forward and ultimately reduce the costs of running the hall.”
Councillors Brown and Enright are members of the Independent/Alliance grouping on Newry, Mourne and Down Council which has six members and holds the balance of power in the council chamber.
“This has enabled us to make progress on several fronts, not least in funding community organisations,” added Mr Enright.
“This is not the only area of community funding policy that Patrick has worked to change with me. Another area was the situation where groups with community halls had to apply annually for funding with no certainty that funding would be obtained.
“Policy has now changed to allow any community hall to get funding for the four or five years of a council term once the community groups signs up to a service level agreement with the council.”