Finlay questions ‘fairness’ of Ballymoney Council’s Good Relations sub -group

COUNCILLOR John Finlay has questioned the fairness of the ratio of elected representatives on the Good Relations Sub Committee.

During a recent meeting, the DUP councillor expressed his unhappiness that his party did not have the ‘majority position’ on the Committee despite being the elected 50% in Ballymoney Council.

The issue was raised following a Leisure and Amenities Committee report which explained: ‘The Director advised that in the Councils current Good Relations Action Plan there is the action to continue with the Councillors Sub-Committee to consider and advise on various good relations projects.

‘In 2011/12 the Sub-Committee was made up of 9 members 4 DUP, 2 SF, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP and 1 TUV. Committee is requested to consider re-establishing the Good Relations Sub-Committee and advise on a suitable day and time to meet.

‘While the offer of grant for 2012/13 has not yet been received from OFMDFM, the Good Relations Officer has been delivering the Action Plan. Indications from OFMDFM are that the letter of offer will be issued soon.

‘It was proposed by Cllr Ian Stevenson, seconded by Alderman Bill Kennedy and agreed to recommend that Council re-establish the Good Relations Councillors Sub-Committee.

‘A discussion ensued on the make-up of the sub-committee and its representations.

‘It was proposed by Alderman Kennedy, seconded by Cllr Cathal McLaughlin and agreed that Council retain 9 member representations of, 4 DUP, 2 SF, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP and 1 TUV, meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at 7pm.

‘The Director advised DUP nominations may be made at the Council meeting in October.’

However at last Monday’s meeting Cllr Finlay was critical, saying that the ‘DUP should have five members elected’.

In response Director Iris McCleary explained that there had been a ‘lengthy discussion on the matter’ and Committee members had agreed to ‘retain the numbers as of last time - nine with four DUP’.

Cllr Finlay continued: “I’m not denying anyone’s place however it should be proportionate. I say it goes back to Committee so they can have another look at it. I just question its fairness.”

The Director highlighted that there was ‘no set number allowed onto the Sub Committee’ and that ‘there had been talk of having full Council represented’ however added: “It was set up as a Sub Committee of the Leisure and Amenities Committee and the majority agreed that it should remain that and therefore the same as last year.”

Alderman Frank Campbell outlined that the Sub Committee meet in the day time and that ‘did not suit a lot of people’.

Concluding Cllr Evelyne Robinson said: “In the interest of Good Relations of this committee I believe it should be discussed again and request that it is put on the next agenda.”