ONE of the longest serving - and most controversial - figures in the history of Ballymena Borough Council is to ‘stand down’ at the next elections.
Ahoghill man, Roy Gillespie, was, for many years a stalwart of the DUP and a staunch supporter of the party’s then leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley.
Outspoken, unambiguous and firmly committed to the old school of unionist and loyalist principles, Cllr. Gillespie was no stranger to controversy with his hardline views sometimes placing him at odds with the more moderate wing of the party.
The man himself had no doubt about his beliefs and, like him or loathe him, he had, as they say in Ballymena, ‘no back doors’.
He was first elected to Ballymena Borough Council in 1973 to represent the Bannside area and for three decades and more regularly topped the polls in his core electoral area.
However, he resigned from the D.U.P in March 2007 because ‘they joined hands with Sinn/Fein IRA and brought unrepentant terrorists into government.’
He said: “My conscience and principles did not allow me to stay in a party which I believed had stepped away from all they had stood for in the past.”
In 2011 he ran for the T.U.V under the leadership of Jim Allister QC and was successful in winning the seat which he holds today.
Speaking of his retirement, Cllr. Gillespie said: “I was saved in 1975 and since then I have sought by God’s grace to take a Christian stand on moral issues and The Lord’s day, in keeping with God’s word.
“My thanks to all those who have voted for me over the years,to keep a local voice in council. Also my thanks to the Press and all the different Government Departments and council staff for all their help, which has seen many improvements brought to the Bannside area. l have met many helpful people and have had good working relationships with them.
“I intend, God willing, to remain in council and finish my term which terminates in 2015 making a grand total of 42 years, but as with anything in life everything comes to an end.
“Ecclesiastes ch 3 states ‘To every thing there is a season’. I believe that this is now my season to step aside and let a younger generation take over,” he added.