Causeway Coast and Glens Council will only invite the NORTHERN Ireland national football team to a reception.
At the recent Corporate Policy and Resources committee meeting, notices of motion from DUP Alderman John Finlay and the UUP’s Cllr Aaron Callan called on council to note and celebrate the achievements of Michael O’Neill’s team in qualifying for the 2016 European Championships.
However, after some debate, an amendment by SDLP alderman Maura Hickey calling for the Republic of Ireland team and manager Kilrea man Martin O’Neill, to be included in any celebratory event, was carried.
But at last Tuesday night’s full council meeting, Cllr Aaron Callan proposed an amendment that the celebratory event be held solely for the Northern Ireland team.
“This is not about excluding anyone, it’s about celebrating our national team,” said Cllr Callan.
Deputy Mayor, Cllr Darryl Wilson, echoed his fellow party member’s comments and asked for the debut not to be ‘dragged into the gutter’.
Sinn Fein’s Phillip McGuigan slammed the Ulster Unionists asking: “Why start your comments saying it’s not about excluding anyone and then go and exclude someone? We want to celebrate all our local heroes including Martin O’Neill and James McClean. The two teams have brought great success to this island and it should be celebrated, but this is about exclusion.”
His party colleague Cllr Cara McShane branded the proposal as ‘pathetic’.
“I take exception to the words ‘dragged into the gutter’ being used when talking about the Republic of Ireland team, it’s disgusting,” she said.
“There will be a huge part of our population alienated if this goes through, I would appeal to members to show maturity.”
Cllr Wilson refuted Cllr McShane’s claims he made derogatory comments about the Republic of Ireland team.
20 councillors voted in favour of inviting only the Northern Ireland team to a reception and ten voted against.