Financial fiasco over fir in Castlereagh Council

Just three years after the DUP’s Iris Robinson flew to Italy to purchase a £6,000 Christmas tree, Castlereagh Council has decided to give it the chop. Although supposed to save the Council money — the ‘renewable’ tree was expected to last for many years more — this year the Council are using a different fir, which cost a further £6,000.

Alliance Councillor Michael Long believes that the DUP hand-picked evergreens were far from ‘tree-mendous’ value for ratepayers.

Cllr Long, who exposed the original scandalous costs of what he described as ‘probably the most expensive Christmas tree in Northern Ireland’ in 1999 said: “This whole episode over a not-so-evergreen has proved to be a financial fiasco from the start.

“At the time, I said sending councillors with little horticultural knowledge to Italy to pick up a Christmas tree was a waste of ratepayers’ money — particularly when Belvoir Forest is on our doorstep. The DUP were simply barking up the wrong tree.

“When I questioned the financial sense of buying a tree for £6,000 when Lisburn Council’s cost £50, I was told that this new one would save money in the long run as it could be re-used. Now I learn that just three years after it was bought, this dilapidated tree won’t be used again. Another one, which cost ratepayers another £6,000, will be used instead.

“While the idea of a renewable tree is good, in Castlereagh the cost to ratepayers has been ridiculous. I know the DUP don’t have much in the way of ‘green’ credentials, but at least it has finally been proved that the party’s bark is worse than its bite.”

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