Northern Ireland news

Absentee Green Party councillor misses another Belfast council meeting

Green Party councillor Georgina Milne
Brendan Hughes

A GREEN Party councillor who narrowly avoided being struck off Belfast City Council due to absenteeism has missed another monthly council meeting.

Georgina Milne ended her non-attendance streak when she turned up to March's full council meeting – her first in almost six months.

But the councillor, who works as a research scientist, was on Monday night absent again from the monthly meeting at city hall.

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.

Ms Milne, who was co-opted by the party in 2016 when Ross Brown stood down, has continued receiving her annual council wage of around £14,000.

Before March, she had last attended a council meeting on September 4, according to council minutes.

Ms Milne also again missed meetings last month of the two council committees she sits on.

The Green Party said she has made a "strong contribution" to the council, but her workload has "taken its toll on her council attendance" and she is not contesting May's elections.

During March's council meeting, a Twitter row broke out between Green Party leader Clare Bailey and two Alliance councillors over Ms Milne's absences.

Emmet McDonough-Brown claimed the Greens were "asleep at the wheel", while Kate Nicholl accused Ms Milne of being "only here so her wages aren't stopped".

Ms Bailey accused them of "opportunistic point-scoring".

"Catch yourselves on and a real shame that during council meetings you both tweet spurious claims about a colleague sitting beside you," the South Belfast MLA said.

Mr McDonough-Brown said the Green Party's only rep on Belfast council "couldn't even bother to turn up" and asked Ms Bailey: "Why didn't she step aside?"

The South Belfast MLA responded: "Have either of you spoke to her?"

Ms Nicholl replied: "No she's already left the meeting."

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