24 June 2004 Edition

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Lisburn unionists under scrutiny

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler

The behaviour of unionist councillors at the AGM of Lisburn City Council on Thursday 24 June will be observed by a Dublin Government observer and a Sinn Féin delegation, led by former Mayor of Belfast Alex Maskey.

The AGM is due to elect the mayor and deputy mayor of the council and fill the senior posts on the council's committees.

Last year's Lisburn Council AGM led to a year of controversy after the DUP and UUP colluded to fill the chair and deputy chair positions on all of the council's committees to the exclusion of Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance parties.

And since then, Sinn Féin has spearheaded a campaign highlighting this unionist discrimination.

Sinn Féin's Paul Butler has warned that the party will consider taking legal action if unionists again take all the top council positions this year.

The tone for today's AGM may well have been set at an acrimonious meeting of the council on Tuesday, during which a motion passed by Fermanagh Council in May condemning Lisburn's discrimination policy was discussed.

Unionists retaliated by passing their own motion condemning Fermanagh Council.

Paul Butler is accusing Lisburn Chief Executive Norman Davidson of operating a unionist agenda after Davidson, in his report, described the Fermanagh motion as an "unprecedented, unwarranted, unwelcomed and indeed inaccurate interference in the internal business of Lisburn council".

Butler said he is seeking a meeting with the NIO's Local Government Minister Angela Smith to clarify what Davidson's remit is in relation to council business.

"Davidson's report could have been taken from the unionist political agenda operating in this council, which actively pursues discrimination against nationalist representatives," said Butler. "In his report he does not acknowledge the ongoing inequality and intransigence being carried out by unionist politicians in relation to senior positions on the Council."

Sinn Féin has organised an anti-discrimination protest outside the council building at 11am on Thursday as the AGM gets under way.

An Phoblacht
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