Sinn Féin - On Your Side

McLaughlin - Discrimination on Lisburn City Council must be exposed

22 July, 2003


Speaking at Press Conference this morning, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin along with the four Lisburn City Councillors launched a campaign to expose discrimination on the Lisburn City Council.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"At Lisburn Council's AGM on the 26th June 2003 the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party excluded Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance Parties, from every senior position on the Council.

This has meant that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Lisburn City, are both unionists. All of the Chairs and Vice Chairs, of every Council Committee have also been taken up by the UUP and DUP. Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance Parties, have effectively been excluded from holding any senior positions on the Council.

This decision taken by the UUP and DUP at the Council's AGM, is an act of blatant discrimination against Nationalist and other political representatives on Lisburn Council. This abuse of power by Unionists on Lisburn Council must be strongly opposed by everyone. 'Lisburn Council no Catholic need apply' is the clear message Unionists sent out to the Nationalist community and others at the Council's AGM.

Lisburn Council must not be allowed to treat the political representatives of Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance Parties in this way. We are calling for the political isolation of Lisburn Council until it gives Nationalists and others equal representation and full participation on the Council. Lisburn Council is not functioning as a normal democratic Council. We are seeking political support for our campaign to isolate Lisburn Council.

We want to see a more inclusive and representative Council which reflects the political composition of Lisburn City. We want to see all of the political parties on Lisburn Council working together and sharing power for the good of all the people of Lisburn." ENDS

SINN FEIN CAMPAIGN TO END DISCRIMINATION AT LISBURN COUNCIL

· Implementation of D'hondt system by Lisburn Council so that positions are allocated fairly. Sinn Féin have motion down for Monthly Council meeting tonight 22nd July calling on Council to implement d'hondt. Every other City in the North Belfast, Derry, Newry and Armagh have power sharing arrangements in place. The only city out of step is Lisburn City.

· Sinn Féin will put issue of nationalist discrimination on the agenda of every Council in the North and South of Ireland. We will be calling on Councils to pass motions opposing Lisburn Council and its exclusion of nationalist representatives and others on Lisburn Council.

· We will highlight the fact that this discrimination affects 17,000 voters in Lisburn City. Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance voters, are being discriminated against by this decision of the UUP and DUP. We will call upon the SDLP and Alliance Parties to support the campaign to end this discrimination against our voters.

· We will call upon both the British and Irish governments to support nationalists right to equal representation and full participation on the Council. The British government should consider dissolving Lisburn Council and bringing in an administrator to run the Council and take power out of the Unionists hands if Council refuse to implement d'hondt.

· We will call upon Leinster House, Westminster, the European Parliament, and US Congress, to debate this issue and pass motions in support of nationalists and others on Lisburn Council. We want TDs, MPs, MEPs and Congressmen, to support our campaign.

· Sinn Féin will not support the Council's campaign in relation to Lisburn City. This campaign is being run by the Council around the slogan Lisburn A City for Everyone. Sinn Féin will actively oppose this campaign and will highlight the fact that Lisburn is only a city for Unionists.

· Sinn Féin/republican activists will protest at any events that Lisburn Council are invited to, on both sides of the border. Whether it be trade fairs, tourism events or meetings of organisations, such as LAMA, which invites Lisburn Council to its annual conference every year.

· Sinn Féin will launch a poster and leaflet campaign around the theme Lisburn A city for Unionists. Sinn Féin will counter Lisburn Council's campaign around Lisburn being a city for everyone with posters/leaflets telling people it is a city only for Unionists.

· We will call upon the business, community and voluntary sector, to support our campaign by not using the Councils Island Civic Centre for conferences or any other events which promotes Lisburn Council. The message we are sending to these groups is, give no credibility to Lisburn Council until it ends this discrimination of Nationalist representatives.

· We will also be calling on nationalist community groups in places like Twinbrook, Poleglass and Lagmore, not to invite the Mayor or Deputy Mayor, into the area. We will be calling on them to show support for their political representatives, by refusing to ask the Mayor or Deputy Mayor to officiate at any events they are organising.

· Sinn Féin is also exploring the possibility of legal action against Lisburn Council. Our solicitors at present are seeing if we can get a judicial review of the Council's decision at the AGM. We want the courts to intervene and find Lisburn Council guilty of discrimination.

· Sinn Féin councillors on Lisburn Council will campaign both inside and outside the Council to bring about an end to this discrimination by Lisburn Council. We have no intention of boycotting Council meetings or any other meetings where the interests of out constituencies are being raised. We will continue to represent and fight for those who elected us to represent them on Lisburn Council.

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