Alderman Martin commented: “At last week’s meeting, two of Councillor Jenny Palmer’s former DUP colleagues, with the support of the SDLP, moved to remove Councillor Palmer from her role on the Lagan Valley Regional Park, of which she is the current Chair.’
“Nominations to outside boards ordinarily go through the relevant committees but DUP Aldermen Allan Ewart and David Drysdale nominated SDLP Councillor Pat Catney onto the Lagan Valley Regional Park without any notice. The nomination was taken and the agenda moved along without any time for alternative nominations or consideration.
“Only for the intervention of Jenny Palmer, who realised something was amiss, the issue would have gone unchallenged. Despite attempts by Councillor Palmer and I to have the matter more fully considered, the Mayor made a ruling to end debate when it is clear the decision did not have the full backing of all Councillors. The vast majority of Councillors did not have any information on which to base a decision and no time to object or ask questions. What’s more striking is that nominations to the Board were due to have been looked at in detail by the Development Committee in September by agreement.
“I am completely baffled as to why the SDLP would sit on their hands and not decline the nomination. The SDLP have willingly allowed themselves to be used as a pawn in a game meant to isolate Councillors Jenny and John Palmer from playing their full and rightful parts on the Council. Party allegiance aside, I will not stand idly by when these sorts of tricks are being pulled on good representatives only doing the best to represent their electorate.
“To anyone who doesn’t follow politics this might seem like a storm in a tea cup but it goes to the heart of how Council decisions are made. This was a deliberate and well-executed plan to push the decision through without anyone noticing. The Council’s enhanced powers means good governance is absolutely crucial. Rush decisions cannot be left unchallenged.
‘Alliance, Ulster Unionist, NI21 and TUV representatives have all signed a call-in petition requiring reconsideration of the decision in an unprecendented show of bipartisan joint action, which in itself speaks volumes. We might all make the political naughty list in the eyes of some who would have preferred this be swept under the carpet but even if we lose what is in effect a recount, the message must go out that Council decision-making will be open, fair and transparent.
“I would hope Councillor Pat Catney does the honourable thing and declines the nomination, thereby creating a vacancy so a fair nominating process can take place.”