Defeated election candidate sets sights on council seat

Jonny Orr.
Jonny Orr.

A Lagan Valley general election candidate who issued a video statement on the eve of last Thursday’s poll urging voters to unite behind a rival candidate has said he’s hoping to win a council seat in 2019.

Outspoken independent Jonny Orr posted a video on his campaign Facebook page telling voters that it would be “a very bad idea” to elect him, and urging people to throw their support behind the UUP’s Robbie Butler.

The Lisburn man said he was “unofficially out of the election”, but his name still appeared on the ballot paper.

He polled just 222 votes, while Mr Butler (7,533 votes) was more than 19,000 behind the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson, who was returned to Westminster with his largest ever majority.

In his video, Mr Orr, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, said: “I’m chronically ill, I lack experience and I have no transition team in place to take over. It would be a very bad idea to elect me to the MP seat of Lagan Valley at this point in time.”

But stressing that he still has political ambitions, he went on to say: “I am going to find a way to get better and in two years come back and win a council seat. If I work hard that will happen.”

Commenting on his Facebook page, a number of people expressed shock and disappointment at his decision to support Mr Butler.

But in a second video, Mr Orr set out his reasons for backing the UUP man, saying he has “a clean slate” and “a completely different perspective” from other politicians.

Describing it as his “dream and passion” to be a political representative, Mr Orr revealed that he plans to stand in either the Lisburn South or Killultagh DEA at the next local government election.

And although he backed Mr Butler in the general election, he stressed that he has no plans to join the UUP and is “happy being an independent”.

“I would want to work with the UUP, the SDLP, Alliance and the Greens, but I have no plans to join any of them,” Mr Orr said. “I think Northern Ireland needs a few independents. It needs a few people outside political parties who can speak up and say what they think and point things out to the public.”

While he has a lot of followers on social media, Mr Orr knows he still has work to do to increase his public profile on the ground.

“I feel pretty confident that I can win a council seat, but I suppose it will come down to the amount of work I put in,” he continued.

A Lisburn man through and through, Mr Orr says his key aims would include improving the city’s nighttime economy and creating more jobs.

“This city has so much potential. This city can be great,” he said.

• Read related story - It would be a very bad idea to elect me, says candidate