Long says end in sight for “Castlereagh mentality”

An Alliance Castlereagh Councillor has said his party’s amendment to the Local Government Bill allowing the use of social media in Council meetings will ensure the “Castlereagh mentality” in relation to openness will be challenged under the new ‘super councils’.

Long was speaking after the Assembly backed Alliance’s amendment, which will permit such usage by Councillors, the public or journalists, provided it doesn’t disrupt proceedings. It follows criticism of unionist Councillors in Castlereagh, who have consistently failed to support a range of Alliance proposals designed to make the Council more transparent for ratepayers.

Just last week, an Alliance motion calling for the Council’s main committee meetings to be held in public was voted down, while several attempts to allow the recording of meetings were denied.

Councillor Long, who successfully lobbied for minutes of Council meetings and Councillor allowances to be made available online, said local people had the right to know what was going on in the chamber.

“Other councils make all their information available without fuss, which is particularly helpful for ratepayers unable to attend meetings. However, unionists in Castlereagh seem to have an aversion to allowing the same transparency to occur in the borough.

“This Alliance amendment to the Local Government Bill will guarantee an honesty in the Council’s approach and will allow ratepayers to know precisely what is taking place in the chamber between their representatives.

“The influence of social media is growing day-by-day and this move will help the other parties join Alliance’s commitment to open scrutiny by the public.”


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