Alliance Councillor Michael Long has said he is unsurprised, after an Alliance motion became the first in Belfast City Council history to be deferred by a controversial new committee.
The Business and Standards Committee allows the DUP and Sinn Féin to ‘vet’ issues of their choosing before they go to full Council, giving the two parties more power to decide what makes it to the main Council agenda. Its first meeting last week saw one motion, on adding tourist signs to mark historic events around Belfast city centre, discussed. It had been submitted to Council by Councillor Long, who said it was evidence of the fears other parties had discussed before the committee was created.
“Alliance, along with the SDLP, PBP and the Green Party, opposed the formation of this Committee as we felt it would limit debate and the ability to raise matters at full Council meetings,” said Councillor Long.
“Clearly it has not taken long for the idea behind it to be implemented, as at its first meeting, a motion on historical signage being erected in the city centre was the first and only motion kicked to the Committee. I believe that means for the first time in Belfast City Council history, a motion submitted by a Councillor and deemed competent will not be given the opportunity to be discussed in the Council chamber.
“Ironically, some of these signs would have showcased important events in the history of our local democracy, and yet the two biggest parties once again combined to enact their own form of democracy at Belfast City Council.”