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Councillor News

  • Deborah Girvan (Ards West)
    4:26 PM

    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
    4:04 PM

    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."
  • Swan with crossbow bolt, Antrim, Neil Kelly
    11 AM yesterday

    Alliance Antrim Councillor Neil Kelly has said he is appalled after a swan was found dead following an apparent crossbow attack in the town.

    An image, posted on the Antrim Town Facebook page, showed the animal at Loughshore in Antrim yesterday evening with a crossbow bolt apparently protruding from its head. A search for the swan took place but it was found dead this morning.

    "It is disgusting someone would apparently attack a defenceless animal and in such a way. Anyone who would do so is clearly a dangerous individual," said Councillor Kelly.

    "The seeming use of such a serious weapon as a crossbow lends this incident an even more sinister edge. This vile brutality towards animals should have no place in a decent society and it's difficult to comprehend the mind of someone who would willingly partake in such behaviour.

    "I would encourage anyone who has information on this incident to report it to police immediately so the perpetrator can hopefully be stopped from carrying out any further similar incidents."

  • Deborah Girvan (Ards West)
    10 AM yesterday

    The Ards and North Down Council Alliance team have added their voices to the Votes at 16 campaign, after securing an important local debate on the issue tonight.

    Alderman Deborah Girvan and Councillor Karen Douglas said it was an "important move" for the Council, giving greater recognition to young people who are the future of the borough.

  • Stephen Donnelly
    5 PM Monday

    Alliance West Tyrone representative Stephen Donnelly has hit out at the perpetrator of an armed robbery in which a hammer was brandished.

    Around 7.15pm on Sunday, a male entered Culmore Service Station on the Dromore Road in Omagh wielding the hammer and demanded a staff member hand over money. He was wearing a grey tracksuit, grey hoodie, black gloves and a scarf over his face, and made off with a sum of cash.

    "I am disgusted at this thuggish act of armed robbery at a local business," said Mr Donnelly.

    "While I am relieved no-one was physically hurt during the crime, the use of a hammer in this robbery is particularly sinister, and will have no doubt left the staff affected deeply shaken.

    "I am urging anyone who was in the Dromore Road vicinity on Sunday night around 7.15 pm, and who have information pertinent to the investigation, to come forward and cooperate fully with the PSNI so the individual responsible for this can be held accountable for their actions."
  • Karen Douglas
    10 AM Monday

    Alliance Councillor Karen Douglas has welcomed plans to make Ards and North Down more dog-friendly after the Council agreed to make local businesses aware of the benefits of doing so.

    Ards and North Down Borough Council approved plans to direct local businesses to existing dog-friendly schemes and promoting them throughout the borough.

    "Alliance has always supported the community of dog owners, bringing as it does physical benefits such as a more active lifestyle, as well as mental wellbeing. Businesses which are dog friendly have also indicated many further benefits, such as reduced stress for employees, improved social interaction and a better atmosphere on their premises," said Councillor Douglas.

    "A number of existing schemes such as Be Dog Friendly and the Dugs N Pubs programme already exist throughout Ards and North Down, and they encourage businesses, pubs and public places to adopt a more dog-friendly attitude. It's a positive move the Council will engage further on this issue, including educating local businesses on how they can avail of the scheme and the methods they have at their disposal to promote it.

    "Dogs bring companionship, comfort and joy to many. I'm delighted it'll now be easier for owners to enjoy everything the borough has to offer."
    1 PM Friday

    Alliance Councillor Tom Campbell has reminded drivers to take care as a snow warning remains in place over the weekend.

    Snow fell across many parts of Northern Ireland overnight, with a yellow weather warning for snow and ice in place until 6pm on Saturday. A number of schools are closed as a result, while disruption remains in place on a number of roads.

  • Patrick Brown profile pic 2
    2 PM Thursday

    Newry will finally see a park on the Albert Basin site, it has been confirmed, after a campaign led by Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown secured the long-sought after decision.

    With full community backing, the local Councillor had consistently stood up against Sinn Féin and the DUP's attempts to block the park, while Newry Mourne and Down Council was also unwilling to commit to a park on the site.

  • David Armitage
    26 November
    Alliance Councillor David Armitage has appealed for information following an attempted murder in East Belfast.

    Police forced entry to a property in Lendrick Street off the lower Newtownards Road around 8.30am this morning (Sunday) and detained a 47-year-old man, who was then arrested on suspicion of the offence.

    A 39-year-old man was taken to hospital with lacerations to his head. His condition is not thought to be life-threatening at this time.

    Councillor Armitage said: "I am shocked by this incident and I know many in the local community will be as well. I am thankful the victim did not appear to suffer life-threatening injuries and hope he makes a full recovery.

    "I would appeal for anyone with information on this incident to take it to police immediately or contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111."

  • Kate Nicholl
    24 November

    Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has welcomed a 12-week consultation to look at Sunday trading hours, licensing and a potential casino complex for Belfast.

    At today's Belfast City Council Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillors voted to put the issue out to consultation, with ratepayers encouraged to give their views via a questionnaire which will be promoted by the Council.

    Councillor Nicholl said it was important the public had their say on the issue.

    "Alliance brought proposals earlier this year which would have extended Sunday opening hours. While that was disappointing, this consultation once again puts the matter back on the agenda. It came from a motion to look at licensing, opening hours for bars and restaurants, and a potential casino and leisure complex. While Alliance has clear positions on licensing, we are keen to hear people's views on casinos, so I would encourage as many as possible to take part,

    "However, the motion was brought by Sinn Féin, which is ironic, given they voted against liberalising Sunday trading laws via designating Belfast a holiday resort, an issue on which the Council would have been able to make changes. While they talk about improving tourism, when it comes to the crunch they appear to not actually be committed to doing anything about it.

    "I hope they now realise the mistake they made and work towards an outcome that delivers for all the people of Belfast. Ultimately, Belfast City Council won't be able to change anything in this regard, as it falls to the Department for Communities to amend any existing legislation. But with a strong, united Council voice and a restored Executive, we can make our city even more opening and welcome to tourists, residents and businesses."

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