A WELL-KNOWN trade union representative has announced his intention to stand as an Ulster Unionist candidate in the May elections to Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Andy McKane, a native of the Cranagh area, is the current chairman of the Omagh and Fermanagh branch of Unison. He has worked in mental health for almost 30 years and is hoping to regain the seat last held for the party in the Sperrin ward by Jim Emery.
Mr McKane describes himself as ‘coming from a Unionist background’ and readily admits that the UUP was the obvious choice for him in deciding to enter the world of politics.
“My commitment to representing members of Unison who have issues will not be affected one bit by my decision to stand in this election, or if I win a seat on Derry City and Strabane District Council,” he said.
“In fact, it would be my hope that the issues around health care and the NHS which I have been highlighting as a Unison representative for many years will be given a wider hearing within the chamber and allow me to campaign even more effectively on them.
“As a defender of the NHS and the work which it carries out, I believe we are better served by remaining as part of the union.
“But whether or not I’m elected, I will continue to represent Unison’s members regardless of class or creed.
“We need to work to enhance the NHS and help to improve healthcare for everyone.
“My aim will also be to see that our education services and roads infrastructure are also enhanced.
“It would be my belief that the A5 needs to be upgraded, and I would have concerns around the impact of mining for gold in the Sperrins.”
Mr McKane, who has previously lived in Newbuildings, is hoping that he will also soon be re-elected as branch chairman of Unison and says he is ‘reasonably confident’ of becoming a councillor.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t have stood if I did not believe I would be elected,” he added.
“Through my work, I know the challenges which ordinary workers are facing financially and the issue of improving the pay for nurses and other health workers is one which I have been consistently highlighting.”
Veteran councillor, Derek Hussey, will represent the UUP in the other rural Strabane ward, the Derg District Electoral Area.