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SDLP ‘own goal’ proposal to suspend d’Hondt system in Coleraine

23 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Coleraine councillor Billy Leonard has described the proposal by the SDLP's John Dallat and Gerry McLaughlin to suspend the d'Hondt system of power sharing at next month's Council Annual General Meeting as "bizarre, dangerous, naive and an own goal".

They proposed that, after the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and main Committee positions were allocated, Council 'suspend d'Hondt'. The embarrassed duo eventually withdrew the motion after Leonard explained the implications for republicans and nationalists and avowed anti-d'Hondt unionist councillor Robert McPherson said he would support their proposal.

Cllr Leonard said:

"This was politics at its worst. Their proposal was not thought through, unionists mocked them during and after the meeting and it was a bigger own goal than the DUP invoking Cromwell as the 'father of democracy' at last week's meeting.

"I couldn't believe my ears yet they defended the motion until my third time of saying what the practical implications of their proposal were. Coleraine Council would have undoubtedly gone back to unionist bloc voting against republicans and nationalists as they could use the perfect excuse of an SDLP proposal to do away with power sharing.

"It may have some weaknesses but overall d'Hondt protects minorities and Sinn Féin is strong enough, even in Coleraine, to argue for cross party representation in other situations. But what we can't have is the SDLP driving the equality agenda in reverse.

"Efforts by John Dallat at the end of the debate to say that the proposal was not about doing away with the d'Hondt system were extremely weak and likewise mocked by unionists." ENDS

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