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Councillor News

  • Sian O'Neill
    last Thursday

    Free sanitary products should be provided throughout Belfast City Council premises, Alliance Councillor Sian O'Neill has said.

    Councillor O'Neill was speaking as she brought a motion to Council calling for the move. The motion called for support for the On the Ball campaign, which aims to combat 'period poverty' by providing free sanitary products in as many public buildings and sporting grounds as possible.

    Councillor O'Neill said Belfast City Council should follow the example of other Councils by providing them in City Hall, Council offices and sporting and leisure facilities. The motion was referred to Committee for further discussion.

    "Similar motions being brought to other Councils herald a shift in the public conversation about periods and I want to commend those who have already done so," said Councillor O'Neill.

    "The statistics are stark - over a quarter of girls in the UK have reused a sanitary product because they can't afford a fresh one, while one in seven have had to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues.

    "More and more foodbanks are seeing requests for sanitary products alongside everyday essentials. If the choice is between feeding themselves and their families or sanitary hygiene, many women are choosing to put food on the table and risking their health. It doesn't matter how much someone is forced to pay for a natural occurrence, for those already living in poverty, even a couple of pounds is too expensive.

    "I implore all parties to support this motion when it gets to Committee and look at how feasible it would be for someone experiencing period poverty to walk into any of our Council buildings and be reassured there will be products there to alleviate any financial pressure they may face to deal with a natural issue they have no control over.

    "I will now contact all sporting grounds, leisure facilities and entertainment venues to ask them to also consider this proposal. Without a functioning Assembly, the onus is on us as Councils to take whatever steps we can to help ensure this is no longer an issue. This is not just about sanitary provision, it's about dignity for women who cannot afford something they cannot control."

  • Peter McReynolds
    last Thursday

    Belfast City Council needs to take a lead in increasing recycling rates across the city, Alliance Councillor Peter McReynolds has said.

    Councillor McReynolds was speaking ahead of tonight's Belfast City Council meeting, in which he will bring a motion calling for the Council to commit to introducing glass recycling across the city as soon as possible.

    It follows the Council's recent Waste Framework consultation, which while it will see the introduction of a stacker system for recycling, however glass recycling for all houses will not be ensured until autumn 2022.

    "It is unacceptable Belfast does not already have household glass recycling as standard across the city, especially when neighbouring Councils have been able to provide this service for years," said Councillor McReynolds.

    "Whilst we welcome the move to increase glass recycling, the timescale is too long. We want to see interim measures introduced so everyone can recycle glass at home as soon as possible. Glass is one of the heaviest materials to be recycled and as waste costs are measured by weight, Belfast is clearly losing out by not making glass recycling easier, not only in terms of the environment but also in terms of cost to ratepayers.

    "Belfast City Council must take a lead on this issue, we cannot afford to delay the introduction of city-wide household glass recycling any longer."

  • Kate Nicholl
    last Wednesday
    Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl is to bring a motion calling for Belfast City Council to play its part in tackling sexual harassment.

    Councillor Nicholl will bring the motion to tomorrow's Council meeting in the wake of the PSNI's No Grey Zone campaign, which is designed to educate people about sexual consent.

    "I have been vocal about my experiences of sexual assault and harassment, and I know many people who have endured similar or worse. Because this behaviour occurs regularly, it often goes unreported," she said.

    "The PSNI recently launched its No Grey Zone awareness campaign, which sets out what constitutes sexual assault, as well as debunking myths and providing information on available support. I believe everyone in our city should feel supported and empowered to speak out when a sexual assault occurs, and to achieve this more needs done.

    "Tomorrow's motion looks to declare every Belfast City Council premises to be a No Grey Zone and resolves to arrange a cross-party delegation to meet with the PSNI, prosecutors, sexual violence charities and student representatives to identify how we can effectively support the campaign.

    "The normalisation of sexual violence contributes to a wider negative cultural effect on society. The best way to tackle it is to change mindsets, so this is a conversation we all need to be part of. I hope this motion will play its part."
  • last Tuesday
    Alliance Newry representative Helena Young has congratulated Newry Pride organisers after they were selected as the venue for the 2019 UK and Ireland Pride Festival and Parade.

    The announcement was made in Glasgow at the annual UK Pride Organisers Network conference 2018.

    "This is fantastic news and is a tribute to everyone at Newry Pride, who work so hard throughout the year to showcase the best the LGBT community has to offer, both in Newry and further afield," said Helena.

    "Newry Pride is rightly seen as one of the highlights in the local Pride calendar and this award is proof of that.

    "Alliance has been a strong supporter of Newry Pride for many years - the dedicated staff and volunteers ensure each year is a resounding success. I and my party colleagues look forward to participating in the UK and Ireland Pride Festival and Parade there next year in order to celebrate everything the city has to offer."
  • Peter McReynolds
    29 October

    Alliance representatives have welcomed money for a city deal for the Belfast region but added the Chancellor is ignoring the elephant in the room over Brexit.

    Councillor Peter McReynolds and Stephen Farry MLA were speaking after Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced the Budget. The city deal will mean £350 million of funding, however, it is less than was predicted.

    The Chancellor added "negotiations will begin" on a city deal for Derry-Londonderry, while £320 million was set aside for local Government Departments and £2 million given to Belfast city centre in the wake of the Primark fire.

    "While the money is less than expected for the Belfast region city deal, it would be remiss to not recognise it as a fantastic opportunity for the area," said Councillor McReynolds.

    "This is also acknowledgement of the cross-collaboration between a number of local Councils. It is the opportunity to invest in innovative schemes to improve the infrastructure and skills base of the region. It is now up to all partners to stand up and deliver this deal. The hard work starts now.

    "However, £2 million for Belfast city centre is disappointing, given it has been eight weeks since the Primark fire and other regions of the UK did not have that same delay after similar incidents. Clearly there is a bit of political spin between the UK Government and the DUP over this matter. I hope it is only an initial payment. We also note the commitment to discussions on the Derry-Londonderry city deal and hope they can soon celebrate a city deal of their own."

    His party colleague, Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA, said there was "no room for self-congratulations" over the financial figures shown by the Chancellor.

    "Over the past few years, the UK economy has been performing sluggishly compared to its nearest competitors, according to key economic indicators such as productivity and growth. Brexit has already had a major impact, but there were already structural problems in the UK economy before that.

    "The Chancellor's figures are heavily qualified given the impact and economic uncertainty of Brexit. We cannot escape that large elephant in the room. Any form of Brexit will have severe implications for the UK economy, with a no deal Brexit magnifying them on a massive scale. It is likely the Chancellor's figures calculations will be badly knocked off course over the coming months.

    "Further Barnett Consequentials for Northern Ireland are always welcome, however there is a challenge to ensure those additional resources are spent strategically, making our public sector more sustainable and effective. In the past, Barnett Consequentials were used to simply plug the gaps and kick the can down the road. There is an even bigger danger than usual of that happening now due to the lack of an Executive."

  • Gerardine Mulvenna
    26 October
    Alliance Mid and East Antrim Councillor Gerardine Mulvenna has pledged to increase her work to improve dementia friendly services in the area if re-elected as Councillor next May.

    Councillor Mulvenna, who was recently selected by Alliance to run in the Coast Road area in the next Council election, said she would continue to be as dedicated as ever to follow up her invaluable work on dementia, which has received much praise across all quarters.

    She has recently been shortlisted in the Dementia Friendly Community Champion of the Year and the United against Dementia: Outstanding Contribution of the Year categories in the Alzheimer's Society Awards, which will take place next month.

    "Everyone knows someone whose life has been impacted by dementia, either directly or through a loved one. My mum lived with dementia so I personally experienced it. Therefore we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the condition and do what we can to help raise more awareness around it," she said.

    "At last year's Alzheimer's Society Dementia Friendly Awards, Larne was named the most dementia-friendly community in Northern Ireland. I am keen to help build on that honour. Creating a dementia-friendly borough is key to helping those with the condition, particularly those who suffer in silence. In a dementia-friendly community, people are more aware of and understand dementia, and those living with it will feel included and involved, giving people control over their day-to-day lives. My vision is to make dementia-friendly communities right across the borough.

    "I feel privileged to be nominated in the Dementia Friendly Awards this year and if re-elected to Mid and East Antrim Council in May, I will continue to challenge stigma surrounding dementia and increase awareness of how best to communicate, relate to and support people with it and their families and carers."
  • Chris McCaw20171
    24 October

    Alliance Causeway Councillor Chris McCaw has said Portrush traders need to receive assurances they will not be "abandoned" while the Open takes place in the town.

    The golfing event is due to take place in the town in July 2019. Councillor McCaw, who has recently been selected by Alliance to run for the party in the Causeway area in next May's council election, said while the Open would see the eyes of the world turn to Portrush, it was important to not forget about the regular traders there.

  • Lauren Gray with Gerardine Mulvenna and Philip Burnside
    19 October
    Alliance Carrick Castle representative Lauren Gray has said she is confident the party will take a seat in the area in next May's local government election, following its performance in the by-election there.

    Alliance increased its vote five per cent in the Carrick Castle DEA since the previous Council election in 2014, with Lauren finishing a close third behind the UUP. She said the growth in vote was an encouraging sign ahead of the next Council election in May.

    "I am delighted by today's result and seeing the increase in the Alliance vote since 2014 is proof people here are responding to the positive party message," she said.

    "As a result, I am confident it won't be long until Carrick Castle has an Alliance voice speaking for it again. With the next opportunity being May's Council election, I believe Alliance can once again take a seat here and represent everyone throughout the constituency, along with growth across other constituencies.

    "I want to thank everyone who contributed to my campaign, particularly my family, who have helped me greatly to take the opportunity to stand for election. As a full-time working mum, if I have inspired one other woman anywhere to see she can take the chance to stand up and have her voice heard in politics, then this whole campaign has been a success."
  • Kate Nicholl
    17 October
    Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has congratulated Anna Burns on being named as this year's recipient of the Man Booker Prize.

    The first author from Northern Ireland to receive the accolade, her novel Milkman is set in an unnamed city in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

    Kate said: "Northern Ireland has produced world-famous poets, playwrights and novelists, and with this award, Anna Burns has taken her rightful place among that esteemed group.

    "Over the past few years there has been a concerted grassroots effort to raise the profile of the women's writing scene in Northern Ireland and I'm confident Anna's success will not only add to this, but might just be the inspiration someone needs to start writing today, or to make the decision to pursue other artistic skills.

    "I want to congratulate Anna on her outstanding achievement, I'm delighted she has achieved this recognition and her home city is very proud of her."
  • Lauren Gray
    15 October
    Alliance Carrick Castle candidate Lauren Gray has said this week's by-election is an opportunity for the people of the area to have their say on the type of politics they want.

    Lauren said the positive leadership shown by Alliance was reflected in the support she had received from locals throughout the by-election campaign.

    "Throughout this entire period, I have spoken to residents and know the issues which matter to me are the same issues which matter to them as well. From increasing the economic investment in Carrickfergus to helping regenerate the town centre by supporting local businesses, creating a café culture and ensuring the Castle is better connected to the town.

    "Carrick is a family town. If elected as Councillor, I want to do everything in my power to support everyone in our community by providing a crèche at the Amphitheatre, creating a dementia friendly town and having better provisions for young people.

    "I grew up in Carrick and love living here. Now I'm raising my family in the town and I want to help make it somewhere my daughter can be proud to come from too. I love Carrick's community feel and its heritage but we're being held back rather than fulfilling our potential. I want to change all that. Anyone who wants the same thing, I encourage them to vote Alliance on October 18."

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