Northern Ireland news

Green Party councillor could face losing seat due to absenteeism

Green Party councillor Georgina Milne
Brendan Hughes

A GREEN Party councillor appears to be on the verge of being struck off Belfast City Council due to absenteeism.

Georgina Milne, who works as a research scientist, has not attended any council meetings for almost six months.

Under local government laws, a representative ceases to be a councillor if they do not attend meetings for six consecutive months and their absence has not been approved by the council.

According to council minutes Ms Milne, who as a councillor sits on two committees and one outside body, last attended a council meeting on September 4.

It means next week's full council meeting on March 4 will be exactly six months since Ms Milne last attended a meeting.

The council confirmed Ms Milne has continued receiving her annual council wage of around £14,000.

Ms Milne, who represents the Ormiston area of east Belfast, was selected by the Greens to replace Ross Brown after he stood down in 2016.

The councillor did not respond yesterday to requests for a comment.

However, the Green Party said her "busy job" has "taken its toll on her council attendance" and she does not intend to seek re-election.

"Councillor Georgina Milne holds down a busy job as a research scientist as well as serving the people of Ormiston," a spokeswoman said.

"Georgina's workload and travel commitments have increased in recent months.

"The challenges of balancing a role as a Belfast City Councillor with Georgina's profession has taken its toll on her council attendance.

"Georgina has acknowledged this and has made the decision not to contest the upcoming local government election. The party is in the process of appointing a candidate for Ormiston.

"We wish to acknowledge the strong contribution that Georgina has made as Green Party councillor for Ormiston.

"Georgina has led the way on a range of environmental issues and pushed for council to support women in safely accessing reproductive healthcare.

"The Green Party is disappointed at losing a councillor with Georgina's skill and ability and we wish her every success in the future with her career and as a party member."

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "Under Section 9 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972, if a councillor fails to attend any meeting of the council, a committee or a sub-committee, or as a representative on an outside body for a period of six consecutive months from the date of their last attendance, they shall, unless the failure to attend was due to some reason approved by council, cease to be a councillor.

"Councillor Milne last attended a meeting of Belfast City Council on September 4 2018.

"She remains an elected member."

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