After almost 12 years as an elected representative, Portadown councillor Darryn Causby is to step down next week.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service following his last monthly meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council on Monday, October 24, the DUP politician explained stepping down is not a decision he has taken lightly but one he knows is right for both him and, most importantly, his family.
“I love politics, I have a fascination with it, globally, but now, for probably the first time since I became a councillor, it is the time to put my family above all else,” he said.
“I have a wife (Sarah) and two young children (Harry and George) at home and my mother is in poor health and needs more care and attention than I have been able to give her. My family is now firmly my focus.
“When I told the party I wouldn’t be standing for election next year, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, I knew it was the right decision. To my shame, I have put the needs of Council above my family.
“I have taken my role as a councillor seriously and have spoken on a lot of issues, simply because I wanted to feel like I could make a difference and change things for the better.
“As to whether I did that or not? It is for others to judge but I feel I did my best to represent my community on Council.”
Having been involved as a young man in community work and residents groups, Darryn got a taste of interacting with then Upper Bann MP, David Simpson, and statutory agencies. It was at this point the seed that he could best help his local community by working in the political sphere was planted.
“I was at university in Jordanstown at the time and felt some issues that were important to me were not being represented,” he said.
“So I joined the DUP in Jordanstown and got involved in some very basic stuff and it just sort of developed from there.”
First elected to Craigavon Borough Council in 2011, the Brownstown man received 237 first preference votes but managed to secure the seventh and final seat in Portadown on the ninth and final count, thanks to transfers from other candidates, mainly his DUP colleague, Alderman Sydney Anderson.
Open and honest about his struggles with dyslexia, Cllr Causby began working tirelessly for his community and was awarded the honour of being appointed Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s first Lord Mayor in 2015.
Such were his efforts, in the 2019 council elections, Cllr Causby topped the poll in Portadown with 2,077 first preference votes.
“When I first came into the chamber, I was 25, I was the youngest there and felt patronised by certain quarters,” he said. “It wasn’t a major issue but it is something I remember.
“That is probably where my combative nature began to come through. I felt I had earned the right to be there and was determined to represent my community as best I could.
“My dyslexia also presented challenges, I struggled to read and write as proficiently as others and when I became Lord Mayor of ABC in 2015 I knew I would have to spend a lot more time reading.
“It was something I struggled with but to compensate I made the effort to work very hard before events. I made sure I knew a lot of background information ahead of time, this meant I could respond to situations off the cuff or with very few notes.”
At his final monthly meeting as an elected representative Cllr Causby thanked the people of Portadown for “trusting me with their vote” and his DUP colleagues and council officers for their “professionalism and dedication”.
He also revealed that in 2020, at the height of the Covid pandemic he was subject to a death threat which was deemed serious enough to involve police calling at his house every morning and night and new security measure put in place at both his home and place of work.
“I can fully accept people will have their differences with me and have had before but quite honestly, my family went through hell, to be honest,” he said.
“I have always tried to work for the betterment of this borough and one of the things I am most proud of has been the defibrillator scheme, I brought the proposal forward, it received unanimous support and there are now 74 registered devices across this borough.
“That is a decision we made together for the good of the borough, the work we as councillors do can save lives, and that should never be taken for granted.”
He also used his farewell speech to urge the council to provide support for the campaign to secure “much needed capital investment” at Craigavon Area Hospital, a facility he described as, “one of the most vital services in our borough”.
Having met Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, King Charles III on four occasions, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace and hosted Irish President Michael D Higgins at an event in Keady, Cllr Causby said his greatest highlights from his time on the council have been spending time in the local community.
“We have a huge community and voluntary sector here and going out and spending time in this community would do you the world of good,” he said.
“We should be very proud of our community and voluntary sector, they are a true credit to this borough.”
Kind words and best wishes were then expressed by UUP group leader, Alderman Jim Speers, Alliance Party group leader Councillor Peter Lavery, Sinn Fein group leader Councillor Liam Mackle and SDLP group leader, Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon before Cllr Causby’s party group leader and close friend, Alderman Mark Baxter thanked him for his constant support and dedication to his role.
“It has not always been easy keeping control of Darryn, there were a fair few times I failed miserably but I can honestly say he has been a great support to me here, he has been across every detail and is very articulate,” said Alderman Baxter.
“He is going to be a great loss to us as a party and I say that hand on heart. He is a real asset who will be a huge loss on these benches. I value him as a friend and colleague and know that as he moves to pastures new, he is also leaving his first love – the YMCA in Portadown.
“The heart he has for the young people in the Portadown area is something else. The new YMCA building in Portadown will be a great legacy that he played a massive role in delivering. It is a fantastic legacy he leaves behind there.
“I want to wish his wife Sarah and his boys all the best as they get some more family time together. Darryn has been an excellent councillor and I wish him all the best for the future.”