The new city of 'Lisburn and Castlereagh' - The Irish News
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The new city of 'Lisburn and Castlereagh'

A sign welcoming road users to 'Lisburn and Castlereagh city'
Brendan Hughes

THEY came together in a spirit of cooperation earlier this year when the north's old councils merged into 11 new local authorities.

But judging by new road signs, the union between the city of Lisburn and Castlereagh borough has gone further than expected.

Motorists could be forgiven for doing a double take at the signs welcoming people to a brand new location known as 'Lisburn and Castlereagh city'.

Is it a mistake, or has a new city been born in Northern Ireland without anyone noticing?

It appears the answer could be the latter.

Lisburn City Council and most of the old Castlereagh Borough Council merged in May as part of local government reforms.

The new super council has been officially named Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

But the 18 new signs go further by dropping the word 'council' to read: "Welcome to Lisburn and Castlereagh city."

In a statement, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council yesterday suggested that Lisburn's city status has indeed been extended to Castlereagh.

"Welcome signage in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area is reflective of the council's name. In 2002 city status was conveyed to the borough of Lisburn," a spokeswoman said.

"Leading up to local government reform, Local Government (Transitional, Incidental and Consequential and Supplemental Provisions) Regulations (NI) 2015 allowed new councils, of which Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is one, to take decisions in relation to charters, status and names.

"As per the regulations the legislation permitted the application of the borough charter to all of the new area, incorporating part of Castlereagh."

There were raised eyebrows in some quarters when Lisburn first received city status in 2002 as part of Queen Elizabeth's golden jubilee celebrations.

Others, such as the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson, hit back at the time at critics who dubbed Lisburn a "glorified extension" of Belfast.

David Drysdale, a former mayor of the old Castlereagh council, joked that people in Castlereagh would be "delighted" to hear the borough has been elevated to city status.

The DUP councillor for Castlereagh East within the new authority said he could not imagine that the new signs would cause much worry or confusion.

"So long as the name Castlereagh keeps appearing people will be happy because it keeps our Castlereagh identity," he said.

DUP councillor Andrew Ewing, the last mayor of the old Lisburn council, also said he had no problem with signs' description of a single Lisburn and Castlereagh city.

"Lisburn and Castlereagh are joint partners and we are are all one now," he said.

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