25 March 1999 Edition

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Support for Cookstown district council

Le Padraig MacDabhaid
Sinn Fein Assembly member for South Down and party spokesperson on housing, Mick Murphy, has voiced his support for Cookstown district council's threat to boycott the Six County Housing Council (NIHC).

The threat of the boycott has come about because of the continual refusal of the unionist dominated housing body to place nationalists in influential posts. This refusal has left Cookstown district council to call for ``proper representation'' in nominations by the Housing Council to the board of the Housing Executive.

Every year the NIHC picks three representatives to take up positions on the board of the ten member housing executive. However, since its inception in the early seventies, the NIHC has consistently selected an all unionist panel except for 1995 when it selected one nationalist.

The board and its selection process are representative of the unionist monolith and its attempts to stop others from sharing power. This must change if the unionists are to carry out the commitment which they gave in the Good Friday Agreement.

In order to combat this unionist intransigence, Sinn Fein and the SDLP have voted through a motion in Cookstown which will put pressure on NIO minister Dubs and members of the Assembly to introduce legislation which will create a ``more representative'' appointment process. However, if this does not occur then Cookstown council will withdraw its representation from the Housing Council as Cookstown district council does not want to play any part in a ``platform for discrimination''.

Speaking after a meeting with the Sinn Fein Chairperson of Cookstown district council, Pearse McAleer, Mick Murphy said, ``it is a disgrace that the NIHC has only nominated one nationalist to the board of the Housing Executive in the last thirty years. Considering that the Housing Executive administrated a budget of 500 million last year, proportional representation on the board is of vital importance''.

An Phoblacht
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