Long calls on Environment Minister to investigate Castlereagh Council’s Statutory Transition Committee decision

Alliance Castlereagh Councillor Michael Long has said the new Environment Minister must investigate the decision by Castlereagh Council to ignore his department’s guidance, after it selected two Unionists for the Belfast Castlereagh Statutory Transition Committee.

Despite stipulations d’Hondt – or a similar method – should be used to select committee members in the interests of fairness, Unionist Councillors opted to select and DUP and UUP member instead of a DUP and Alliance member for the committee that will help oversee the merger of the two Council groups under RPA.

Writing to Minister Durkan, Mr Long has called for an urgent investigation and highlighted Alliance is strongly considering a legal challenge to the decision.

Councillor Michael Long said: “Alliance will not sit idly by and let Unionists in Castlereagh ignore democracy, taking a position on the Statutory Transition Committee that is not backed by the voters.

“With five Alliance Councillors to two UUP Councillors in the areas that will merge with Belfast, our Party received almost 5,000 votes compared to less than 2,000 received by the UUP. This must be recognised.

“RPA is meant to completely reform how local governments work and we are told these new Councils will be built on a foundation of respect and equality, with mandatory power sharing. However Unionist politicians are already demonstrating they are prepared to ignore democracy to ensure they secure the majority on these influential committees, allowing them to put their tribal agenda firmly on the table.

“Alliance is currently considering a legal challenge to this decision and I have already instructed my solicitor, who will be writing to the Council this week, with regards to the matter.

“I have written to Minister Durkan to highlight how far Castlereagh deviated from his own department’s advice and have asked him to urgently intervene and investigate the matter, ensuring the fairness and equality intended in the legislation be implemented as soon as possible.

“RPA has the potential to help create a truly shared society and Alliance will continue to fight to ensure this process stands un-corrupted, representing fairness and equality for everyone.”

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