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Councillor News

  • Stephen Donnelly
    2 PM yesterday

    Victims and survivors of the Troubles deserve justice and shouldn't have to wait any longer to receive it, Alliance West Tyrone Westminster candidate Stephen Donnelly has said.

    Mr Donnelly said the consultation into the Stormont House Agreement legacy mechanisms should proceed immediately, as they offered the best opportunity for the issues to be resolved, adding the status quo was not sustainable in the long-term.

    "Proposals on how to deal sensitively and respectfully with the past were decided as part of the Stormont House Agreement. Yet several years later we are sitting here without any action having been taken on them. The UK Government needs to release its consultation immediately and allow the process to move on," he said.

    "Alliance has always raised the topic of victims and survivors in the numerous talks processes over the years because they deserve justice and deserve it now. Instead it is clear some see them purely as a political football and forget about their issues at other times.

    "While the Stormont House Agreement mechanisms and other means for comprehensively dealing with the past such as a victims' pension cannot bring justice for everyone, it will get the ball rolling and allow us as a society to move on in a way that is inclusive to the needs of all."
  • Stephen Donnelly
    4 PM Monday

    Alliance West Tyrone Westminster candidate Stephen Donnelly has hit out at the Brexit Secretary after he made only a flying visit to the Irish border.

    David Davis MP visited the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic earlier today, to meet stakeholders. However, media have since complained they were unaware of the visit until after Mr Davis left. He subsequently tweeted it was essential to keep the border free of physical infrastructure.

    "A number of serious questions remain about the UK Government's approach to the Irish border in the event of Brexit, questions Mr Davis could have answered if he had stayed and engaged with more than a handpicked few," said Mr Donnelly.

    "It appears as if the Brexit Secretary turned up for a photo opportunity and then left again without allowing a single journalist to question the UK Government's disastrous vision for Brexit.

    "With the Government's apparent refusal to accept the clear necessity of the UK remaining within a customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland remaining in the single market, it is difficult to see exactly how promises of a border without any physical infrastructure can be achieved."
  • Stephen Donnelly
    1 PM Monday

    Votes for 16 and 17-year-olds should be extended to Northern Ireland, Alliance West Tyrone Westminster candidate Stephen Donnelly has said.

    Mr Donnelly said local elections could follow the example of Scotland, which lowered its voting age to 16 for the independence referendum and local government elections in 2014, or Wales, which recently said the change would be in place for local elections in 2022.

    He said young people in Northern Ireland also deserved the right to participate in the democratic process.

    "Young people at 16 and 17 are old enough to work, join the armed forces and pay taxes. Therefore, it follows they have should have a right to say how those taxes are spent and who makes those other key decisions. If you pay taxes, you deserve representation.

    "By reducing the voting age to 16 we can also encourage more young people to take an interest in politics and get involved in the democratic process while still in education. Giving a new generation a voice can only be a benefit to local politics.

    "We must take this opportunity to show young people they are equal citizens, with respected opinions. Many of the decisions taken by elected representatives will shape the rest of their lives, so it is only fair they have a say in them."
  • Kate Nicholl
    last Wednesday

    Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has said the findings of a consultation into Sunday trading hours show the majority of people in Belfast back extending them.

    Councillor Nicholl was speaking ahead of a meeting of Belfast City Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday at which the results of a public consultation into whether the city should designate as a holiday resort will be discussed.

    It would mean major retailers would be able to extend their opening hours on up to 18 Sundays in any calendar year, excluding Easter Sunday, between March and September.

    "The findings of the report show clearly the public in Belfast back the idea of the city being designated as a holiday resort - nearly 2,500 people responded yes, with 80 per cent of those being from postcodes in the Belfast district, with only 594 from Belfast replying no," she said.

    "We cannot allow the opportunity to modernise Belfast city centre to pass. To do so would cost jobs, make regeneration more difficult and fail to open the city up to outside investment opportunities. We need an outcome which delivers for all the people of Belfast.

    "I appreciate for some there are understandable concerns about workers' rights, however, under the 1997 Order no shop worker will be compelled to work on a Sunday, as well as providing the right not to suffer any other detriment for refusing Sunday work. Additionally, if Belfast does become designated as a holiday resort this will be continuously monitored and evaluated by the Council and subject to a full review at the end of the resort period.

    "Liberalising Sunday trading hours will create more choice for visitors and tourists in the summer months, giving us a real opportunity to promote a positive cosmopolitan image of our city - we need to do everything we can to sell Belfast as the great destination it is."
  • Stephen Donnelly
    last Wednesday

    A second referendum should be held on the terms of the UK's exit from the EU, Alliance West Tyrone Westminster candidate Stephen Donnelly has said.

    Mr Donnelly said a year out from Brexit, the best way through the process was for the UK to remain within a customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland to continue to participate in the single market, options people could vote on if a second referendum took place.

    "Brexit will be the most damaging event the UK will have seen for generations. The consequences will affect everyone but they will be particularly felt here in Northern Ireland, given our unique circumstances. That's why Alliance believes the UK as a whole remaining within a customs union and Northern Ireland continuing in the single market is the best option to mitigate against the damage Brexit will cause.

    "We are democrats and while we oppose Brexit, we recognise the result of the original referendum - Northern Ireland voted to remain. That is precisely why a second one should take place on the terms of the exit deal. Almost two years on from that vote, many more people now recognise the full facts and impact exiting the EU will have on several areas, from our economy to our politics and relationships with international partners.

    "Avoiding a hard Brexit while having a special deal for Northern Ireland to reflect our circumstances can help us avoid the lasting damage Brexit will otherwise create."
  • Andy McMurray
    11 April

    The SDLP have wasted the opportunity to stand up for a shared community, Alliance Councillor Andy McMurray has said, as he expressed disappointment after a motion to remove Raymond McCreesh's name from a park in Newry failed.

    Speaking after the latest meeting of South Down Council - in which three SDLP Councillors abstained on the issue - Councillor McMurray said the retention of the name only added to the hurt felt by victims and their families.

    8 April

    Alliance Councillor Michael Long has expressed shock after the death of a man in suspicious circumstances in South Belfast.

    Two men in their 30s have been arrested on suspicion of murder, following the death of the 29-year-old. Police were called to a house in Titania Street off the Cregagh Road shortly after midnight. The victim was treated at the scene by paramedics and then taken to hospital, where he died a short time later.

    "This is a devastating incident and the local community will be in shock," said Councillor Long.

    "Any death in suspicious circumstances is traumatic but the loss of a young man's life is even more distressing. My thoughts go out to the loved ones of the victim.

    "Police are currently treating the death as suspicious, and I would ask anyone with information to contact them immediately."

  • Andrew Muir, Bangor coastal path
    3 April

    Ards and North Down Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir is keeping up the pressure to complete much needed upgrades of the North Down Coastal Path in order to make the path safe and accessible to all. The path runs from Bangor to Kinnegar in Holywood and has been upgraded in sections over the last number of years but travel between Seahill and Cultra remains challenging in places with very narrow paths and steep drops to the rocks and shoreline.

    22 March

    The Northern Ireland Audit Office has agreed to investigate ongoing Alliance concerns over a controversial fund for community projects.

    The party delegation, led by Belfast City Councillor Michael Long, met the Audit Office today to raise worries over the lack of openness and transparency surrounding the Local Investment Fund (LIF).

    The fund, which was not advertised publicly and had no clear system for determining which projects could be funded, saw millions allocated to several schemes without strategic objectives or measurement of outcomes.

    "Earlier this year, Alliance proposed to have an immediate review of the concerns raised by an Audit Office report into LIF last year, which urged the Council to consider the effectiveness of this method of funding," said Councillor Long.

    "When £4 million was allocated to tourist projects in the autumn, we called the decision in and, whilst the opinion went against us, it was recognised there was little or no process for some applications. Projects appeared to be based on a one for you, one for me approach and again there was no open call.

    "Far from our concerns being alleviated, these actions have only added to our opinion current funding mechanisms are not fit for purpose. It seems obvious there is a clear pattern - Sinn Féin and the DUP are working together on funding issues.

    "As a party committed to openness and transparency, Alliance feels this is not good enough. I am pleased the Audit Office has agreed to investigate our concerns and I hope it leads to a more appropriate method of funding projects being established."
  • Emmet20171
    28 February

    Alliance Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown has welcomed the extension of the Belfast Bikes scheme, with extra locations announced in the Ormeau area.

    The Alliance team has consistently backed the scheme and last year refused to back plans to cut the scheme's first free 30 minutes to 15.

    Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said: "The success of this scheme is clear in the fact it just keeps on growing. As a long-term supporter, I'm delighted to see it having grown so far and welcome the addition of new locations in the Ormeau area.

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