Alliance councillor blasts lack of power sharing

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AN Alliance councillor has hit out at Coleraine councillors for what he claims is their unwillingness to share power.

Councillor Barney Fitzpatrick’s comments came after last Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of Council, when a motion to rescind a previous decision was passed.

At the meeting Ulster Unionist members put forward a notice of motion calling on the Council to rescind a decision made back in July 23.

The motion referred to the membership of the Statutory Transition Committee.

The committee sees members of Coleraine, Ballymoney, Moyle and Limavady coming together to discuss issues relating to the reorganisation of the councils planned for 2015.

At the time two DUP members, one UUP and one SDLP were voted onto the committee as of the guidelines issued by the previous minister which asked councils to nominate members through the D’hont system as of the 2011 council compositions.

Councils in Coleraine, Moyle and Limavady used the guidelines. This meant that in Coleraine three DUP councillors, one UUP councillor and one SDLP councillor were nominated onto the committee.

However, Ballymoney council went against the guidelines, and used the D’hont method based on their current make up as of 2013.

At Tuesday meeting councillor Norman Hillis proposed that Coleraine’s membership of the committee should be through the d’hont system based on their current make up in 2013.

Speaking to members, Chief Executive, Roger Wilson noted that the motion had been put forward in light of a decision taken by neighbouring Ballymoney Council.

Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick was unhappy with the d’hont method, and made an amendment calling on council to nominate through another process.

The amendment was lost, and the UUP motion was carried by seven votes to two. DUP members of the council did not vote.

As a result of the motion, members will now nominate two UUP councillors, two DUP councillors and one SDLP councillor onto the committee.

Speaking after the meeting, councillor Norman Hillis said that he had raised the issue at a transition committee meeting last month in a bid to ‘force the hand of the DUP’ in Ballymoney.

However he said that as they did not change, the motion was a response to ‘something that was out of our control’.

The UUP man went on: “If the Minister makes a decision on this issue we may have to go through the nomination process again, and I made that clear at the meeting.”

As he left the chamber, Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick commented: “They still refuse to share power.”