Sinn Fein and TUV clash over Good Relations policy

The church parade in Dungiven.
The church parade in Dungiven.

There was a heated exchange of words as Causeway Coast and Glens Borough councillors gave their views on the new Good Relations Policy.

The Good Relations team presented a report to the Leisure and Development Committee at Cloonavin in Coleraine on Tuesday night outlining the strategy and recommending its adoption.

However, words were exchanged between two councillors following the presentation.

“What do we do with people who agree to this strategy but are sitting in pubs organising people to stop others going to their place of worship,” asked TUV councillor Boyd Douglas.

It is believed Cllr Douglas’ remarks were in relation to the protests at the Annual Church Parade in Dungiven.

However, Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey branded Cllr Douglas comments as ‘disgraceful’.

“Let’s not sit here and make cheap remarks,” he said.

“The facts speak for itself. We have built up good relationships in Dungiven over the last five years.

“People have had concerns, but we held meetings with the PSNI and the parade went off peacefully.

“We will certainly respect the church service.

“During my time in council I have supported projects in every area.

“Everyone knows my past, I got involved in politics to make a change and make sure others didn’t get involved in the same sort of things I found myself in in the past.”

Alderman Maura Hickey of the SDLP said councillors had to take responsibility.

“We could be perceived as being hypocritical sitting here tonight,” said Ald Hickey.

“We have to take a responsibility. If we endorse it we have to make sure we don’t just pay lip service to it.”

Ulster Unionist councillor Darryl Wilson said the £120,000 investment from Council would be ‘money well spent’ if the strategy does what it sets out to do.

“Time will tell if the strategy works or not,” he said.

“We’ve been scrutinising costs throughout our time in council, but if this strategy does what it says on the tin then it will be money well spent.”

Following the debate councillors agreed to back the policy as recommended.