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Standing for election

To be eligible to stand for future local council elections as a candidate, you must, on the day you are nominated, be:
  • at least 18 years old
  • a British or Irish citizen, or a citizen of another member state of the European Union or the Commonwealth
  • not be disqualified from being a councillor.

In addition, you must fulfill one of the following three conditions:

  • be registered to vote in the district in which you are standing
  • have lived in the area for one year preceding the day of the election
  • have worked in the area for that period.

Who is disqualified?

You cannot stand if you:

  • work for a council
  • hold a politically restricted post for another authority
  • are bankrupt
  • have served a prison sentence of three months or more within five years prior to an election
  • have been disqualified from being elected as a councillor under any legislation.

Getting nominated

The majority of people become councillors as a result of joining a political party. However, some people stand as independents (candidates who do not belong to any political party) or as pressure groups.

If you are thinking of standing as a candidate for a particular political party, then you will need to be a member of that party's local organisation. 

For details on political parties, visit the Northern Ireland register of political parties on the Electoral Commission website.

In the run-up to an election, the council publishes a 'Notice of Election'. This details:

  • the date and time of the election
  • electoral areas
  • the number of councillors to be elected
  • the timetable for submitting nomination papers.

People who want to stand as a candidate in the election must request a nomination pack from the council. The pack contains all the forms and information needed to become a candidate.

Each potential candidate needs:

  • a proposer - someone who will put their name forward as a candidate
  • a seconder - someone who will back up the proposer
  • eight assentors - eight people who will agree to the proposal.

These ten people must be registered electors in the district electoral area where you want to stand as an electoral candidate.

What support will I get if I am elected?

As a new councillor, you will be invited to take part in an induction programme, introducing you to the workings of the council. Training for councillors continues throughout their term on a variety of topics.

The professional officers working at the council are available to assist you, for example, by providing advice about council procedures or problems in your area.

As all officers must be politically impartial, they cannot assist in any matter that could be seen as supporting a political party or pressure group.

Will I be paid?

There are two types of allowances for councillors:

  • a basic allowance which is paid to all councillors
  • a special responsibility allowance which is paid to councillors who carry out special duties such as being the chair of a committee or a party group leader.