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Night of "gutter local politics" - Leonard

24 May, 2005

Coleraine Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard has issued a scathing attack against Unionist councillors who ensured that Sinn Féin were excluded from all council positions.

He has claimed that one DUP councillor confirmed that they were excluding "only the Shinner".

His comments come after the Council's AGM at which the d'Hondt mechanism was applied to only 20 positions. Leonard proposed that it be applied to a further 26 committee positions but this was rejected.

"This was a night of gutter local politics. The incoming DUP mayor spoke of a 'forward looking borough' yet his party by their actions admitted they can't move forward. They were excluding Sinn Féin and, they were prepared to ignore the group of people who voted for Sinn Féin candidates right across the Borough.

I proposed that an additional 26 positions be included. Had this been done everyone would have been included, not just Sinn Féin.

"When I said that they were on a programme for exclusion from many of the positions one DUP councillor openly said they were excluding 'only the Shinners'. Now we have an important Equality Committee that doesn't reflect the equality legislation. It's pathetic.

"But the public should also know that it wasn't just the DUP. The Ulster Unionists were very good at making additional proposals force a confidential vote. Obviously when that happened Sinn Féin was always excluded." ENDS

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