All change as old guard make way for new face of local politics


David Mahon and Bert Johnston at the count

AFTER the drama of the election count it will be down to business in a matter of weeks for all the elected councillors as the new shadow council will be getting together soon for their first meeting.

From the Fermanagh side of the new council the members will comprise some experienced councillors and some new faces.


The decision by veteran councillors John O’Kane (SDLP) and Bert Johnston (DUP) to retire from local politics has seen their two seats taken by their young party colleagues – John Coyle and David Mahon respectively.

Speaking immediately after he was elected for Erne North a visibly emotional John Coyle said he was very happy to have been elected.

“It was hard work,” admitted Mr Coyle who said he found the count a tough and emotional experience, especially as he had a long wait  – almost eight hours – to be declared elected.

Asked if this was his first foray into politics Mr Coyle said it wasn’t – reminding us he had in fact ran alongside John O’Kane the last time around.

This time instead of running alongside him his party colleague was working behind the scenes.

“John (Coyle) stood with me the last time, and he has been working in the area for a few years now, building up his vote and getting to know people” said John O’Kane at the count centre in Omagh.

“John has a great work rate and great enthusiasm, and he will be a very good councillor” continued Mr O’Kane.


“I’m delighted for him and it’s great to have him representing the SDLP in this area.”

Another new face who will sit on the Fermanagh and Omagh council is the DUP’s David Mahon, who takes the seat vacated by council stalwart Bert Johnston.

David was elected after stage five of the Erne North count and admitted he was ecstatic at becoming a councillor.

“I got a lot of help and Bert helped me a lot with the campaign” said David.

Asked how he got into politics, or what made him decide to run for the council, Mr Mahon confirmed that his sister ran for this seat seven years ago.

“I know I have a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to helping people,” continued David Mahon who is a married father of two children.

Bert Johnston, who was with him throughout the count in Omagh, said he would be available to help his colleague out if he needs any advice.

“David replaces me on the council and I wish him well” said Bert Johnston. “He has a lot of things going for him and a good ability to do the job.
“I have every confidence he will do the job well” continued Bert.

David Mahon said he had to thank wife Jill for putting up with him and for all those who helped with his election campaign and canvas.

Other new councillors who will now sit on the Fermanagh and Omagh council include Feely brothers John and Anthony, representing Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists Howard Thornton and Victor Warrington and Keith Elliott from DUP.

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