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Councillor News

  • John Doherty 1
    last Wednesday

    Alliance Foyle representative John Doherty has said he is disgusted by vandals who defecated and urinated in a local church.

    The break-in at Christ Church on Infirmary Road in Derry-Londonderry also saw extensive damage caused to the church's organ, a decanter stolen and windows smashed. The incident happened sometime between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday at 4pm. The vandals are believed to have broken in through a stained glass window.

    "I am totally disgusted by the actions of those who broke into this church and carried out such mindless vandalism," said Mr Doherty.

    "To defile any building in this way is shameful, but to do it to a church is particularly disrespectful to those who worship there. I simply do not understand the mentality of these vandals. This attack was not just on a church but the entire community.

    "I would urge anyone with any information whatsoever on this incident to contact police with it immediately."
    4 September
    Belfast City Council has backed an Alliance amendment to a motion condemning recent comments made by US President Donald Trump.

    The amendment, submitted by Councillor Michael Long, said President Trump's comments following events in Charlottesville lacked clarity and failed to condemn the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi gangs.

    "The President has a history of comments showing misogyny, xenophobia and racism. It is disgraceful and there is no place for it in the world," said Councillor Long.

    "This amendment outlined the need for all of us to challenge racism and unfairness wherever we see it. Sometimes a face to face challenge is most effective, such as Justin Trudeau challenging the Pope about institutional abuse or Enda Kenny reminding Trump about the benefits of immigration.

    "It also reiterated this Council is committed to treating everyone fairly, with equality and respect, helping our city in its transition from a period of division caused by conflict to a city that celebrates diversity and pluralism."

    4 September
    Alliance Councillor Michael Long's motion to allow for crucial decisions at Belfast City Hall to be made more transparent will be referred back to committee later this month.

    The motion from Councillor Long - Alliance's Group leader on Belfast City Council - was referred back to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, after he brought it to the Council tonight. It will see the Council put together plans to make the party leaders' forum more open and transparent.

    "Alliance wants to see a new era of accountability," said Councillor Long.

    "This is the next step in our plan to make Belfast City Council fully accessible to all our citizens.

    "The Party Group Leaders' Forum is where many key decisions are taken and while it is understandable discussions between group party leaders are confidential, the public has a right to know when decisions are reached, and what exactly has been agreed.

    "There must be complete openness and transparency around these decisions - not the version that is often tainted by party political point scoring and often finds its way into the press after meetings. This is about taking steps to ensure myself and other party group leaders can be held accountable for the choices we make."

  • Sian O'Neill
    4 September

    Alliance Councillor Sian O'Neill has called for a public inquiry into the plight of victims of mother and baby homes in Belfast.

    Councillor O'Neill was speaking during tonight's Belfast City Council meeting, in which she backed Amnesty International's call to set up a human rights-compliant public inquiry into allegations of forced labour and ill treatment. The motion was passed by Councillors.

    She said the motion should "hang like a cloud of shame" over all those who played a part in the homes.

    "On the publishing of the McAleese Report earlier this year, a number of women bravely came forward to state they too had been victims of the same institutions in Northern Ireland but as yet they have not received the same political focus and attention. It is imperative their voices lead this discussion.

    "We should remember these homes - where pregnant girls as young as 13-years-old were sent and where dozens of babies suffered severe malnutrition - were not relics of a distant past. The most recent closures occurred in the 1990s.

    "The current Executive inter-departmental working group on mother and baby homes/Magdalene Laundries/clerical child abuse has yet to engage with victims, with victims' groups only finding out information about it via the media. This same working group's research will not be presented until the end of 2018 - that is not good enough.

    "Only a public inquiry following international standards conducted under oath with a strong element of compellability and delivered in a time sensitive manner will suffice. Unless we have that, for many victims it will be too little, too late."

  • Stephen Donnelly
    1 September

    Alliance West Tyrone spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has called for a death threat against a number of men in the Omagh area to be removed immediately.

    A statement given to a local newspaper contained the threat against at least six local men, who the unnamed group claim are drug dealers. It was accompanied by an image of three men wearing balaclavas and military-style clothing. A number of guns are also pictured.

    Mr Donnelly condemned the threats.

    "There is no place whatsoever for vigilantism in Omagh or anywhere else. Violence is never the answer and there can never be any excuse for it. Whoever is behind these threats needs to withdraw them immediately and without reservation.

    "Our community has suffered enough in recent times due to the fatal consequences of drugs. We do not need this pain compounded by armed groups subverting the rule of law and the very means by which justice can be secured for bereaved families.

    "The only way to tackle criminality such as drug dealing is by reporting incidents to police and helping them with their enquiries. I have no doubt the PSNI have the complete support of the local community in facing down both drug dealers and these thugs."
  • Andrew Muir and Larry Thompson, Cultra Station House
    31 August

    Cultra Railway Station is on the express track back to life, Councillor Andrew Muir has said, after significant renovations were unveiled for the first time this week.

    The local Councillor - who engineered support for the restoration plan to go ahead - said it was 'fantastic' to see the much-loved location restored to its former glory.

    Councillor Muir said: "Since 2011, my colleague, former Councillor and now Chair of Holywood Conservation Group Larry Thompson, and I have worked hard to ensure rapidly deteriorating Cultra Station House didn't hit the buffers and was instead on the fast track to a full revival after being seized by NAMA.

    "Far too often we see historic buildings fall into a state of disrepair, but rather than let that happen to Cultra Station House, Alliance has consistently fought to see the arrival of a functioning site. That's now fully ready and promoting a positive sense of community spirit after many local people and organisations boarded the campaign, from Holywood Conservation Group to Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, a previous Environment Minister and even a Irish TD..

    "This is a success story. Cultra Station House has overcome health and safety concerns, the economic crash of 2011 and many other disappointments, to offer local people a truly wonderful place to live. I'm very proud to have been involved in this project from the start and would encourage everyone to look at what has been achieved."

  • David Armitage
    28 August
    Alliance East Belfast Councillor David Armitage has said racist graffiti daubed on walls in the area is not representative of the wider community.

    The graffiti was written on walls in Dunraven Avenue and Glenbrook Avenue. Councillor Armitage said he had contacted Belfast City Council to get it removed urgently.

    "East Belfast is becoming more diverse and multicultural, which is welcome. What is not welcome is this graffiti. It is appalling some people would still have such attitudes in the 21st Century," he said.

    "This summer has seen the best of Belfast showcased to a global audience through a number of major events. Graffiti like this and the thugs behind it have no place in our society - migrants are a valued part of our community, and should be respected and made to feel welcome.

    "I know the vast majority of people who live in this area and further afield will be disgusted by this sickening graffiti. I hope we do not see any more and I would urge anyone with information on those who put it there to give it to police immediately."

    27 August
    Alliance Lisnasharragh Councillor Michael Long has said someone could have been killed after a deliberate fire which saw a number of locals rescued from flats.

    The blaze was started at the property in Rosewood Park, Castlereagh, shortly after midnight yesterday (Saturday). Flammable liquid was poured over the front door of the flat and set alight. A passer-by raised the alarm.

    A pregnant woman and her partner in one flat escaped through a window, while two women and two children were rescued from upstairs flats.

    "This was a disgraceful incident, which could have easily led to the loss of life of a number of people, including children," said Mr Long.

    "What on earth possesses someone to start such a dangerous fire and put so many lives at risk? I am thankful to the Fire Service for ensuring no-one was killed here.

    "It is important those behind this attack are brought to justice. I would urge anyone with any information on it to contact police immediately."

  • Councillor Andrew McMurray
    25 August

    Alliance South Down Councillor Andrew McMurray has expressed his condolences after a pensioner died following a road crash in County Down.

    Geoffrey Cartwright (78) died after being hit by a vehicle on the South Promenade in Newcastle just before 11pm yesterday (Thursday). An 18-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of driving while unfit and dangerous driving causing death. He has been released on bail.

    "I would like to offer my condolences to the loved ones of Mr Cartwright," said Councillor McMurray.

    "Local people will be shocked by this sad tragedy, with another life lost needlessly on our roads.

    "If anybody has any information about this incident then I would urge them to contact the police."
    24 August

    Alliance Belfast City Councillor Michael Long has secured a meeting with senior Council officers after receiving a number of complaints about lack of bin collections in the city.

    Councillor Long was contacted by constituents worried about bins not being collected in the Lisnasharragh area of East and South Belfast. He will now be meeting Belfast City Council about the issue, with a view to getting it resolved as soon as possible.

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