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Councillor News

  • last Tuesday

    Alliance has called for an investigation after the Britain First deputy leader was videoed in the Lord Mayor's chair in City Hall criticising charges brought against her for alleged hate speeches.

    The video, showing Jayda Fransen in Councillor robes in the chamber, appeared on social media after she had been to court relating to charges over comments she made at a rally here last year. It is understood the visit was facilitated by Councillor Jolene Bunting.

    "Councillor Bunting does her constituents and the people of the entire city a disservice in facilitating this visit. People here do not want their community linked to fascists and have rejected them time and again. Their views are not reflective of the vast majority of people here and who we are as a city," said Alliance Councillor Sian O'Neill.

    "This video disrespects an office which all parties on the Council have sought to undertake in as inclusive a manner as possible. It is an abuse by Councillor Bunting of her privilege to access the robes, the chamber and the Lord Mayor's chair to create a false perception of a link between the Council and Britain First, and Alliance has contacted the Chief Executive to investigate it.

    "Normally when Councillors bring visitors on a tour of City Hall, it is a positive experience designed to make people feel more included in the workings of the city and proud of it. This behaviour is in direct contrast to that, being deliberately designed to alienate large sections of our community and create division. Councillor Bunting is doing nothing but bringing shame on herself and the Council."

  • David Armitage
    4 January

    There is a need for 66,000 new houses across Belfast by 2035, Alliance Councillor David Armitage has said.

    Councillor Armitage was speaking during a motion he brought at Belfast City Council last night (Wednesday). The motion, which went to Committee without debate, called on statutory agencies to review their land ownership to help identify any surplus land suitable for housing. Consideration would then be given to making the land available to meet identified need.

    "Housing is the key to lift people out of poverty. It can be the catalyst to improve the health, especially mental health, of communities, while eradicating inequalities and creating a more dynamic and confident city," said Councillor Armitage.

    "Belfast is a city for all and its housing should meet the needs of its citizens. Estimates are 66,000 people will need homes to be built by 2035. To do this in a way which provides good living space, creates a positive community and caters for wellbeing, Belfast City Council needs to set the agenda in a clear and practical way.

    "I am calling on all agencies within this city to work with us so this can be achieved, and Belfast and its citizens can benefit. If any agency has any land which can be utilised for housing, whether social, affordable or private, within the city boundaries, then we should aim to use it for shared housing for all, regardless of community background, race, ethnicity or religion."
  • Peter McReynolds
    3 January

    Meetings of Belfast City Council Area Working Groups should be audio recorded to make them more open to public scrutiny, East Belfast Alliance Councillor Peter McReynolds has said.

    East Belfast Councillor Mr McReynolds was speaking ahead of bringing a motion to the Council tonight (Wednesday) calling for all Area Working Group meetings to be recorded for public consumption. The Groups, which are split into North, South, East and West Belfast, allocate money to projects in each area.

    "We must make sure decision-making environments are as accessible to the public as possible. We have started this process already with the web streaming of the full Council meetings each month, as well as the audio recording of Committee meetings," he said.

    "Unfortunately, despite increasing openness and transparency at Belfast City Council, only the minutes have been available for the Area Working Group meetings since their formation. This is not acceptable and needs updating, which this motion can achieve.

    "I have seen first-hand the positive work the East Belfast Area Working Group carries out by funding worthwhile organisations but most decisions taken there see the groups receive the allocated funding. This makes the transparency of the Working Groups all the more important, by letting the public know how decisions and funding allocations are decided.

    "I want to see this Council raise the bar once more and be as open and transparent to the public as possible, demonstrating we respect their hard-earned money and we allocate it in an open, fair and transparent manner."
  • Karen Douglas at anti-hunting and pro animal welfare protest
    1 January

    Alliance North Down Councillor Karen Douglas has said hunting with hounds must end after attending a protest calling for the ending of the practice.

    Councillor Douglas was speaking after protesting in Crawfordsburn. She said the numbers attending were proof of growing support for animal welfare.

    "It was good to see so many people at this large peaceful protest, substantially more so than even last year, which reflects the growing opposition to the barbaric slaughter of animals among the public," she said.

    "While today was a drag hunt, it was symbolic of the practice of hunting foxes with hounds, which continues across Northern Ireland. It is shocking in 2018 it is still legal to do just that, particularly as it is illegal across the rest of the UK.

    "This issue must continue to be raised and opposed so we can finally see such vicious animal cruelty brought to an end."

  • David Armitage
    1 January

    Alliance East Belfast Councillor David Armitage has said he is appalled after a gunpoint robbery at a local shopping centre.

    A staff member at McDonald's in Connswater Retail Park was approached by a man carrying a suspected firearm around 5am this morning outside the fast food outlet. He ordered the member of staff inside, where he demanded and received a sum of money. The man, who was wearing a black hoodie and gloves, took off on a bicycle.

    "I am appalled at this incident and my thoughts are with the staff member who was victim to the robbery. I am relieved they were not injured," said Councillor Armitage.

    "The thug behind this incident clearly has no regard for the safety of others and is a danger to society. Connswater is a growing shopping complex and incidents such as this is not indicative of the area or its people.

    "I would appeal to anyone with information on this incident to contact police with it immediately so this dangerous individual can be taken off the streets."

  • Carole Howard (Castlereagh Central)
    1 January

    Alliance Councillor Carole Howard has been appointed High Sheriff of Belfast for 2018.

    The Lisnasharragh Councillor takes up the role for the next 12 months, becoming the first Alliance representative to hold the post since 2000. The position as the Queen's judicial representative in Belfast, was confirmed after formal approval from the Secretary of State.

    Councillor Howard has served as an Alliance Councillor since 2011, being Deputy Chair of the Council's City Regeneration and Growth Committee and is also current Chair of the Belfast District Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

    "I am delighted to officially become High Sheriff of Belfast. It is a role that is for all the people in the city," she said.

    "This position only became available after Alliance pushed for it to become more inclusive than it had been over the past two decades. It is important all civic posts are as representative of the wider community as possible and with High Sheriff now being allocated on the d'Hondt mechanism for all parties who are able to and wish to nominate for it, that is the case.

    "Alliance is committed to inclusion and equality, and securing this change in how the Council's top posts are distributed is evidence of that. I am excited to showcase Belfast and help promote the important message from Alliance Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister of a Global Belfast, while representing everyone across the city."

  • Karen Douglas
    December 2017

    Ards and North Down Alliance representatives have expressed their continued opposition to blood sports and animal cruelty following the Boxing Day hunt in the area.

    The hunt set off from Newtownards and will be followed by another, due to depart Crawfordsburn on New Year's Day.

    Alliance Councillor Karen Douglas said the party has been vocal in its fight to end the suffering of animals.

    "Not only have we a strong opposition to blood sports, we oppose any hunting with hounds - including stag and fox hunting. Hunting with hounds is cruel and has no place in the 21st Century.

    "Seeing animals ripped to shreds by packs of dogs cannot be considered a sport by any right-thinking individual. I will be lawfully protesting against this animal cruelty on New Year's Day and joining with my colleagues to call for more action to lawfully end this barbaric practice."

    "After receiving the backing of Ards and North Down Borough Council in 2015 for my proposal calling for the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to ban hunting of mammals with dogs and the use and sale of snares for the purposes of capturing or killing animals, I am disgusted we are still waiting for action to outlaw these vicious and cruel practices," added Councillor Andrew Muir.

    "Whilst David Ford fought hard as Justice Minister to enhance legislation against animal cruelty, it is a shameful indictment of successive Agriculture Ministers to have shunned the opportunity for legislative reform. With no Executive at present, action is difficult but Alliance intends to explore any further ways the Council can impede and inhibit animal cruelty."

  • December 2017

    Alliance Councillor Amanda Grehan has said she is in shock following a suspected murder in Lisburn.

    A woman died at a house in Mornington Lane shortly after 6am today (Monday). Another woman and a man were taken to hospital with suspected stab wounds. The man has since been discharged. A 19-year-old man has been arrested.

    Councillor Grehan said her thoughts were with the victim's loved ones.

    "This is a relatively new development, made up of people from all walks of life, and is usually very quiet. There is a shock among residents in the wider Mornington area, as they have never had to deal with anything like this here before.

    "My thoughts are with the loved ones of the victim. Christmas Day is one most people spend with their families and is full of joyous moments. However, now we have one family plunged into grief and despair.

    "I would urge anyone with information on this terrible incident to take it to police immediately."

  • Deborah Girvan (Ards West)
    December 2017

    Alliance Councillor Deborah Girvan has said she is disappointed after a motion calling for Council backing for Votes at 16 to be extended to Northern Ireland fell due to unionist opposition.

    The debate at Ards and North Down Borough Council, which had been secured by Alliance, ended in defeat last night after seven DUP and one UUP members voted against it. Alderman Girvan said the move had sent out a disheartening message to young people.

    "Opposition to this motion does nothing but send out the message young people are not a valued part of society. They are old enough to work, pay taxes and join the armed forces, so it follows they should have a say in who makes key decisions and how taxes are spent.

    "Arguments were made about young people being too immature or not interested in politics but that disregards the many engaged, passionate and politically astute of younger age in our society, not to mention having the ability to vote will increase that engagement.

    "There is a clear need for a fundamental renewal of politics in Northern Ireland. Giving a new generation of young people the opportunity to have their say will help inspire that. Alliance will not be deterred from continuing to pursue the right of 16 and 17-year-olds to be able to take part in the democratic process."
  • Kate Nicholl
    December 2017

    Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has welcomed a commitment to reinstall bench slats at an area used by homeless people.

    The bench slats in Jubilee Gardens were removed last week. The area is used by many homeless people to socialise. Following pressure from Councillors including Ms Nicholl, they will now be reinstalled over the Christmas period, with the issue to be looked at again by the Council's People and Communities Committee in the new year.

    "The decision to remove the bench slats was taken by Council officers, without input from the Councillors. I have been liaising with Council since then and gave the opinion the benches should be reinstated immediately unless inter-agency experts advised otherwise.

    "Of course the Council must tackle anti-social behaviour but unfortunately, there were aspects of this issue handled poorly by them. That is unfortunate, as there is much excellent work being done by them and others, especially over the winter period.

    "Homelessness is an incredibly complex matter, so reducing the debate to being about individual benches is not helpful. Many homeless people go to Jubilee Square to socialise and while some may have substance abuse issues, many don't and instead just go because other people are there and they feel safe. We must work closely with the relevant agencies and ensure decisions are made with are sensitive and effective for everyone."

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