The SDLP’s Pat Catney has declined a nomination to replace former DUP Councillor Jenny Palmer on the Board of the Lagan Valley Regional Park.
A number of councillors have signed a petition calling for the election of members to the board to be brought back before the council to be reconsidered.
It was alleged that the vote had been rushed through Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council as part of a controversial bid to oust Mrs Palmer, who has left the DUP, from her role on the board.
There were also calls for Mr Catney, who had been nominated by the DUP, to decline the nomination.
Mr Catney has now announced that he has declined the nomination, a move welcomed by other members of the council.
“I will not stand over any attempt to push Councillor Palmer off the board of the Lagan Valley Regional Park,” said Mr Catney.
“I was approached by the DUP who offered to nominate me to the board, saying it should be represented by cross community parties. I did not seek it out. My only desire was to represent my constituents in any capacity or committee I can.
“Jenny is a dedicated, hardworking colleague and deserves our support. I will not be part of any malign strategy against her and that is why I am declining the nomination.”
Alliance Councillor Alderman Stephen Martin, who instigated the ‘call-in petition’ to have the vote taken again, welcomed Mr Catney’s decision.
“While I wish it had been sooner, I welcome Councillor Catney’s decision to withdraw from the Lagan Valley Regional Park,” said Mr Martin.
“Process matters and the manner in which this nomination was pushed through was simply out of order. The Development Committee is now meeting next week. If members could see all the necessary papers beforehand I don’t see any reason why nominations could not be considered then so that the full Council can approve the decision at our end of August meeting which would put this whole unfortunate episode behind us.
“If Jenny Palmer is still willing to serve I would be more than willing to propose her as our council nominee.
“I am certain that Councillor Palmer would have cross party support and is clearly an outstanding candidate for the role. In my book, you should always choose the best person for the job.”
Councillor Alexander Redpath added: “I would like to commend Pat Catney for declining this nomination and refusing to be part of what he sees as a malign campaign against Jenny Palmer.
“Removing Jenny from this board was both petty and vindictive. The fact that every party other than the DUP has now joined in condemnation of this decision is unprecedented and demonstrates the depth of feeling on this issue.”