Council urged to rethink political make-up of committee

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's Lagan Valley Island headquarters.  Pic by Benrie Brown
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's Lagan Valley Island headquarters. Pic by Benrie Brown

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has said it is “working to find a satisfactory solution” after being urged to rethink the political make-up of its Peace IV Partnership.

The committee, which deals with European funding for local projects, is currently made up of eight unionist and two Alliance members, as well as a number of social partner representatives. However, there have been questions asked about why no nationalist political representatives have been included.

It’s understood the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) has raised concerns about the political make-up of the committee. And it’s been claimed this week that if the council fails to make the committee more cross-community, £2.5m of EU funding for local projects could be put in jeopardy.

SDLP Councillor Pat Catney has called on the council to rethink the current make-up of the partnership.

“This is Peace IV money and by the very nature of it it’s about sharing - that is the very criteria set down by the SEUPB,” he said.

“We need to get this money released. There are people waiting for it - there are children waiting for it who need it.

“I want Lisburn and Castlereagh to be a special place where we share and are inclusive.

“We’re not far away, but we have to show that we are together and that we’re working together and sharing together if we are going to move forward, improve where we live and make it a better place for everyone,” he added.

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir recently wrote to the local authority requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the council’s current position.

Responding to the concerns raised, a spokesperson for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council said: “Peace IV social partners were appointed via an open recruitment exercise representing a range of views and community backgrounds.

“Peace IV political representatives were adopted using the council’s agreed selection process, D’Hondt.

“Further communications have since been received from the SEUPB and from the Department of Finance. The council is currently considering matters and is working directly with the SEUPB to find a satisfactory solution.”