Alliance Councillor Michael Long has reacted furiously to a UUP proposal that would effectively end Castlereagh Council’s Fair Trade policy.
The UUP – backed by the DUP – wants councillors to bring their own beverages to Castlereagh Council instead of using Council-bought Fair Trade beverages, which guarantee coffee growers in the developing world a fair price for their crop.
Cllr Long said: “This small-minded, inward-looking UUP proposal is totally tasteless, and it shows just how little Castlereagh’s unionist councillors care about those less fortunate than themselves. The Council’s existing Fair Trade policy has now been thrown into chaos, with Council groupings now meant to bring their own tea and coffee whilst no provision was made for staff at all.
“We need to improve our existing policy aimed at reducing the suffering of those in poverty in Third World countries in a practical way. The UUP had complained about the taste of the coffee, but when they were offered Fair Trade alternatives, they came up with this daft proposal.
“The ignorance of some Councillors about trade inequalities faced by Third World farmers in competition with huge multinational corporations was astounding. It’s time they woke up and smelt the real cost of coffee.
“At present less than half of the Council’s spending on beverages goes on Fair Trade products, yet the Assembly and other councils have adopted real Fair Trade policies, showing true solidarity with those in dire poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“My simple question is why can’t Castlereagh do the same? As someone who is committed to the concept of Fair Trade, I will continue to work to see this proposal overturned and the introduction of a genuine Fair Trade policy.”