Bigotry ‘alive and well’ on city council

‘Bigotry and discrimination are alive and well on Lisburn City Council’, it has been claimed in the wake of the Council’s Annual General Meeting.

Both the Alliance Party and Sinn Fein have hit out after the DUP took the two top posts on Council - with the deputy mayor’s election particularly contentious.

At last Friday’s meeting Councillor Andrew Ewing was elected as Deputy Mayor, making him the third member of the DUP to hold the title in as many years.

However, members of both Alliance and Sinn Fein opposed the election, with the Alliance Party group leader, Councillor Brian Dornan, proposing his party colleague, Councillor Steven Martin, instead.

Mr Martin’s nomination was defeated. However, he did win the support of not only the Alliance Party, but also Sinn Fein, an Independent member, and a member of the Ulster Unionist Party.

The DUP are the largest and therefore controlling Party on Lisburn City Council and backed their man as the new Deputy Mayor.

Following the election, the Alliance Party’s Brian Dornan said: “I am disappointed that yet again the DUP have refused to accept power sharing in Lisburn Council. They have no problems with it at the Assembly, so why can’t they agree to it in Lisburn?

“The DUP have shown their opposition to inclusivity by refusing to support Stephen Martin for Deputy Mayor despite him receiving support from at least one councillor from every other party apart from the DUP. The DUP may talk of a shared future, but their actions don’t match their words. The Environment Minister must urgently introduce legislation to make power sharing mandatory.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Arder Carson also criticised the Council for the handling of the election, saying the party has been denied any formal positions on the council.

“The discriminatory policies pursued by unionists on Lisburn City Council are as alive in 2013 as they ever have been,” said Mr Carson.

“Sinn Féin is the second largest party grouping on the council yet despite this we have been denied any formal positions following Lisburn council’s annual general meeting. The DUP on the other hand have awarded themselves ten out the 12 official council positions.

“Given the mandate that Sinn Féin received in 2011, had d’Hondt been enacted, the party would be entitled to the position of Chair and Vice Chair of a committee each year, along with one year as Mayor of Lisburn.

“Sinn Féin have consistently been on record calling on the need for proportionality on this council. Since first being represented on Lisburn council in 1985, unionist politicians have constantly sought to deny Sinn Féin its share of positions. As a result, by the end of this term in 2015, Sinn Féin will have held only two official positions in 30 years.

“While other councils across the north are moving forward such as Banbridge and Coleraine, Lisburn is still firmly stuck in the dark ages as a fiefdom for the DUP and bigotry.

“Certainly there is no shared future in the minds of DUP councillors in Lisburn City Council. Discrimination and jobs for the boys remains the priority,” he concluded.