Speaking after the decision was taken on Tuesday night, Councillor Grehan said the move would have brought the local authority in line with the recommendations of the NI Audit Office’s annual report on Lisburn and Castlereagh Council and the Ernst and Young report – a report which provided the basis for the structures of the new Council.
Councillor Amanda Grehan said: “Lisburn Castlereagh is the only council in Northern Ireland not to have taken this action, following on from the separate Lisburn and Castlereagh Councils, who were the only two of the old bodies who refused to accept the need for independent input. Not surprisingly, all three were and are DUP controlled. Last night every non-DUP member voted in favour of the appointment, but the DUP carried the vote against.
“The DUP argument seems to be that they can provide sufficient expertise and knowledge of public finance and corporate governance and that their members on the committee are in some way qualified to provide the scrutiny which is the role of a Governance and Audit committee, which seems unlikely.
“If, however, they have hidden talents no doubt someone from the DUP will correct me and they can also explain in full why the opted against this open and transparent process.
“Their decision defies logic, all other Councils including those controlled by DUP have accepted the need, Ernst and Young and the NI Audit office have indicated that it is a necessity and would help to provide political neutrality and continuity. Yet, once again the DUP arrogantly insist that the level of expertise in Lisburn Castlereagh is so superior that an independent expert, in the very complex issues involved, would add no value to the affairs of the Committee.
“This is a very unsatisfactory situation and the Council, indeed the controlling DUP, needs to think again.”