New Progressive Independents group announce candidates for election

Conal Stewart and Roni Browne who are standing for election in Mid and East Antrim under the banner of Progressive Independents.
Conal Stewart and Roni Browne who are standing for election in Mid and East Antrim under the banner of Progressive Independents.

A new Progressive Independents group has announced two candidates to stand in Mid and East Antrim in the forthcoming council elections.

Roni Browne, from Broughshane, will be standing in Braid District and Conal Stewart, from Ballymena, will be standing in Ballymena District.

Both candidates have agreed a joint platform across key policy areas and plan to issue a manifesto in the coming weeks to inform voters on their priorities and policies.

Roni has lived in the Ballymena area for over 30 years and has two grown up daughters.

After almost 30 years as a nurse and health care worker, Roni retired and has recently set-up her own business.

Roni decided to stand as an independent after feeling frustrated with local government.

Roni said: “I have felt unrepresented for some time and come to the conclusion that if I genuinely wanted change I had to part of that change. I want to offer a real choice to the people of the Braid who want an alternative to the parties.”

Conal is a former urban planner who returned to live in the Ballymena area in 2012 after 13 years living in England.

Conal now works as a business development project manager and also volunteers as a community worker in North Antrim in his spare time.

Conal has opted to run as an independent in Ballymena stating: “I’ve canvassed over 2,500 homes in the area over the last six months; there’s a definite feeling that the parties are failing Ballymena, they are simply hiding behind party policy decided in Belfast on the very difficult local issues that we have to address.”

Both Roni and Conal are keen to prioritise increased transparency in the council’s decision-making processes and seek to bring council and community much closer together.

Roni and Conal hope to be joined by a third independent candidate under the progressive independent banner this week.