Specific guidance from the Environment Department – tabled before last night’s meeting in the form of a letter to the Mayor from the Minister – stipulates Castlereagh Council must use d’Hondt, or a similar method, when selecting members to fill two available spaces on the committee.
As the two largest Council groups this entitles the DUP and Alliance to nominate a member each. However at the latest Council meeting a proposal from the DUP, supported by the UUP, passed, confirming the positions are given to a DUP and UUP member.
Councillor Michael Long said: “This is an absolutely shocking move on the part of the DUP. The party has effectively decided against democracy, making up its own rules to suit its agenda.
“As the second largest party in Castlereagh, Alliance is entitled to a space on the Belfast Statutory transition committee. It is unacceptable that this space has been given to one of the smallest groups in the Council, highlighting the dealing that goes on behind closed doors.
“Alliance will be challenging the decision made as Unionists are now in breach of clear guidance given by the Environment Minister.
“RPA is meant to signal a new era in local government, but it is hard to imagine new Councils delivering real change for everyone in Northern Ireland if they are built on a foundation of the tribal politics of the past.”