Council

Mid Ulster District Council's civic buildings will not be lit up to mark NI centenary

Dominic Molloy: Councillor Molloy’s proposal not to accept a request from the NIO to mark NI’s centenary was approved by a Mid Ulster District Council committee.

Mid Ulster District Council’s civic buildings will not be lit up to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland, its policy and resources committee has decided.

The matter was debated during a meeting of committee on Thursday, October 7. During the meeting committee members were alerted to five requests to light up the local authorities designated civic buildings – the Bridewell, the Burnavon and Ranfurly House.

Members were informed of three requests recommended for approval. These are: world diabetes day on Sunday, November 14; world pancreatic awareness day on Thursday, November 18 and; NSPCC walk for children day on Tuesday, December 21.

The Council’s head of democratic services, Philip Moffett advised the committee of a late request that had been received from the North West Migrants’ Forum to consider lighting up the civic buildings to mark Black History Month which is taking place throughout October.

Finally, members were advised the Council has received correspondence from the Deputy Director of the Northern Ireland Office, Clare King, giving notification of plans to light up buildings across the UK in blue and green on Friday, October 22.

A proposal to accept all these requests was put forward by UUP group leader, Councillor Walter Cuddy and it was seconded by Councillor Kim Ashton.

Councillor Dominic Molloy said he was happy enough to take the recommendations and the Black History Month request but said a decision on the NIO’s request had been made previously.

SDLP group leader, Councillor Malachy Quinn said he would support the three listed and the request for Black History Month.

Mr Moffett advised the request from the NIO was attached for members’ consideration as buildings will be lit up across the UK and it is for members to decide if Council will participate.

Councillor Cuddy said he would like to see all five accepted as there is nothing “out of the ordinary with any of the request and they are well appreciated by the community”.

Councillor Niamh Doris said that as an “Irish Republican” she would like to vote against the buildings being lit up “in celebration of something that deserves no celebration which is the the partition of this island”.

In response to this, Councillor Cuddy said he was of the belief that Council tried “to respect all minorities”.

“If it was Portugal Day or Polish Day there would be no problem, all we are asking is to respect what we all agreed to in the Good Friday Agreement,” said Councillor Cuddy.

Council’s Chair, Councillor Paul McLean said he was of the understanding the centenary committee of the NIO was set up by the Executive which was a joint working group that included members from all political parties.

“I would ask Councillors Molloy and Doris to reflect on that. I appreciate their political view point but this is about going forward, we cannot change our history so I am asking them to reflect on their proposals to exclude this request,” he said.

In response, Counillor Molloy said he does respect the Unionist perspective but reiterated his belief this was already decided in May.

“The lighting up of our buildings is for charitable organisations and it should remain that way,” he said.

“We have policy around flags and embalms and I think it is a good policy and I am happy to keep to that.

“There will be buildings lit up across Mid Ulster under this initiative from the NIO but our Council buildings should only be lit up for charitable buildings.”

Councillor Cuddy said he could recall Council buildings being lit up for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and noted it is not a charitable organisation.

“Maybe this is the way Council works, we have a policy but we just make it suits whatever is required by certain people at certain times,” he said.

“We have had our buildings lit up for non-charitable organisations in the past and all we are doing is asking our fellow councillors to respect what we all agreed to in the Good Friday Agreement.

“Moving forward is all about respecting other traditions and working in partnership. This is not an attempt to change the world of any Irish Republican but it should be remembered that this place is for us all and not just for one party or political view point.”

Councillor Doris said no-one was trying to stop unionists celebrating the centenary but said she would like to stick to the proposal made by Councillor Molloy and called for a recorded vote.

Following some confusion about what exactly was being voted upon, a council officer explained the first vote would be to decided if Councillor Molloy’s amendment to accept four of the requests but not the request from the NIO, which was seconded by Cllr Doris should be accepted.

The amendment was supported by the chamber with nine members present voting in favour of it while six unionist councillors present, Councillors Ashton, Buchanan, Cuddy, Forde, McLean and McKinney voted against it.

A second vote was then taken on this substantive proposal which was passed with nine councillors voting in favour and the six unionist councillors present abstaining.

 

 

 

Adam Morton – 07393 754476

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