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Anger as Unionists block d'Hondt on Coleraine Council

25 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Coleraine councillor Billy Leonard has said that the decision of both the UUP and DUP to block a motion to establish equal representation through d'Hondt on the council as nother 'pathetic commentary on the outdated Unionists of Coleraine Borough'.

Cllr Leonard proposed that Coleraine Council applies the d'Hondt system of power sharing to all council positions and appointments to outside bodies when it holds it AGM in a couple of weeks. This would have meant sharing power on approximately 120 positions rather than only five at present.

Ulster and Democratic Unionists voted as a block against a Sinn Féin proposal to apply d'Hondt to all positions in Borough Council for the incoming year.

Cllr Leonard said:

"This proposal gave everybody a chance to send out the message that Coleraine Council could apply common sense and move forward reflecting the will of voters in the Borough by sharing power. Yet, both the vote and the silence of Unionists who didn't take part in the debate is another pathetic commentary on the outdated Unionists of Coleraine Borough.

"It is not a case of Sinn Féin being discriminated against; the independent councillor is also excluded because the other parties carve up the committee positions. Now we will have an Annual General Meeting on 5 June that shows outdated Unionists blatantly excluding republicans.

"This bigoted carve-up means that Coleraine council will be putting unsuited people on committees and outside bodies. By refusing to share power across the board they simply highlight the indefensible position of discrimination and end up filling jobs for the sake of party prestige and contribute relatively little to the real work.

"Unionists have yet to prove that they are able or willing to share power with nationalists and republicans on the basis of equality and respect on councils such as Coleraine.

"Sinn Féin will obviously continue to fight against this bigotry whether it is in Coleraine or any of the other of the discriminating councils in the North." ENDS

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