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Councillor News

  • Lauren Gray with Gerardine Mulvenna and Philip Burnside
    2 PM Friday
    Alliance has selected Lauren Gray to contest the Carrickfergus Castle by-election next month.

    The Carrickfergus native said she was looking forward to engaging with local people over the next few weeks, adding it was an important opportunity for the people of Carrick to have their say on a number of local issues.

    A former journalist who has worked across East Antrim, Lauren is a local Girl Guide Leader and young mum, who said she was motivated to step forward by the Alliance Party's message of diversity and inclusivity - the kind of society she envisioned for her daughter's generation.

    "The last few years have seen a number of scandals involving the DUP and Sinn Féin, as well as the ongoing political impasse caused and exacerbated by those same two parties. I want to let the people of Carrick Castle have their say and show them enough is enough.

    "I come from a Carrickfergus family - my Dad grew up here and my grandmother worked in the mills, so I know about the town's glorious past. But I want to make sure it has a great future too. We've seen businesses and regeneration opportunities disappear, and services diverted elsewhere across the borough.

    "Now I'm raising my family here and I'm committed to standing up and fighting for the town I believe Carrick can be, being a voice for openness and transparency while others get embroiled in political scandals and against the devastating impact Brexit will bring.

    "Voters in the Carrick Castle area can have their say on October 18 by voting Alliance and Gray 1. Not only will it send a message to the biggest two parties but they will be electing a representative who will work hard for each and every one of them."
  • Emmet20174
    last Tuesday
    Alliance South Belfast Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown has sought a meeting with the Council Chief Executive to raise residents' concerns over students returning to the Holyland.

    With the start of the new university term approaching, locals have aired worries about on-street drinking and other anti-social behaviour issues. Councillor McDonough-Brown said the experiences of many residents were disgraceful and called on people to enjoy themselves responsibly.

    "The issues in the Holyland are well known and have affected the area for many years - but the lack of action from statutory agencies is deeply disappointing," he said.

    "With hundreds of students drinking on-street this past weekend already, residents have already rightly complained and expressed their fears. I have therefore sought an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive of Belfast City Council to discuss the issue and what can be done to resolve the matter.

    "Belfast City Council can intervene in relation to on-street drinking and I will be urging the organisation to do just that. With the correct intervention now, we can turn the tide in the Holyland and help locals restore the area to the long-term residential area it once was."
  • Kate Nicholl
    3 September

    Alliance Belfast Councillor Kate Nicholl has called for a People's Vote on Brexit, as she revealed she will be urging all parties to back a motion on the issue at Monday's Council meeting.

    Following the initial meeting of the Council's Brexit Committee in August, the motion is part of a larger push by Alliance to address the impact of Brexit on citizens across Northern Ireland. Leading on the issue in Belfast, Councillor Nicholl joins her colleague Councillor Gavin Walker in Ards and North Down, who has tabled a similar motion which has been referred for further discussion at Committee level.

    The People's Vote can allow the electorate of the UK to have a voice in deciding to accept any deal negotiated with the UK or to stay in the EU, or in the event of no deal to decide between leaving and remaining in the EU.

    "Brexit is a huge act of self-harm for the UK, with significant damage facing Northern Ireland. Across the UK, there is considerable evidence of people demanding the right to have their say on what now happens. We were sold false promises and fed lies in the referendum and since then, the risks, dangers and implications of Brexit - especially a no deal - have become even clearer. People didn't vote to wreck the economy or to have a crisis in the health service," said Councillor Nicholl.

    "There is support across the political spectrum for a People's Vote. It would be a tragedy if the UK was now dragged over the cliff edge if that is not what the electorate wish. People must have their say before any deal is finalised.

    "Belfast now has the opportunity to join with many Councils across the UK in passing a resolution in favour of the People's Vote. This is a campaign that is gaining real momentum."

    Councillor Gavin Walker added: "Given the strong Remain vote in Northern Ireland, and all of the complexities and ambiguities posed to this region by Brexit, it is important local Councils are seen to be taking a stand and representing local people, particularly in the absence of the Assembly.

    "In the event of Brexit, Alliance continues to advocate and support a special deal for Northern Ireland. But any special measures will bring their own challenges, and a People's Vote offers the prospect of a simpler and stronger solution."

  • Karen Douglas, freedom of the borough for health and social care workers
    1 September
    Alliance Councillor Lorna McAlpine has said she was "delighted" to see the Freedom of the Borough finally awarded to health and social care workers across Ards and North Down, at a special ceremony in Bangor's Walled Garden on Saturday.

    Securing the move back in March, Councillor McAlpine said the positive move was made even better by the fact it had secured cross-party backing, with all parties represented at the event this weekend.

    She said: "Over the past 70 years, the NHS has provided care and support for the sick, the vulnerable, older people and those in need across our society - including through the darkest days of the troubles. I'm delighted all Councillors were able to back this proposal and it was fantastic to see everyone come together to mark this milestone."

    Councillor Karen Douglas, who supported the motion, added: "Since the foundation of the NHS in 1948, technology and the way we deliver health and social care has rapidly evolved, vastly improving the health and well-being of our citizens. During this time two things have remained constant, namely the passionate and professional dedication of staff, plus commitment to the vision set out by Beveridge to provide provision from cradle to grave.

    "In that 70th anniversary year, it seems extremely appropriate we gave this award recognising service and our love of health and social care in Northern Ireland."
    31 August

    Alliance Belfast Councillor Michael Long is to propose a motion which he hopes will deliver a way forward in tackling the issue of verge maintenance and grass cutting across the city.

    In 2014, the UUP Minister at the Department for Regional Development axed the grass cutting budget, with the result that cuts went from five per year to none. Since then the number of cuts has increased to twice a year but many residents still complain about the poor state of the verges.

  • Sian O'Neill
    17 August

    Alliance East Belfast Councillor Sian O'Neill has called for refugee and asylum seeker children to be included in a scheme which will see funeral charges waived for anyone under 18 in Belfast.

    Councillor O'Neill was speaking after a meeting of Belfast City Council's Strategic Cemeteries and Crematorium Working Group, at which a paper was presented in relation to a recent Council motion about children's funeral charges.

    While the group unanimously backed the motion to waive cremation costs for anyone under 18 across Northern Ireland and funeral costs for anyone under 18 in Belfast, Councillor O'Neill said it was vital refugee and asylum seeker children were included.

    "The loss of a child transcends all political levels and I am thankful to the courageous campaigning of Councillor Julie Flaherty, the current Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, who has led the way on this issue," said Councillor O'Neill.

    "There are currently no official figures but organisations working with asylum seekers would estimate there are less than two deaths of asylum seeker babies or children each year in Northern Ireland. Still, we need to ensure their inclusion in this scheme.

    "I therefore put forward a proposal to make sure any child who calls Belfast their home be provided for in the devastating situation of their passing. It is the very least we can do for parents who have already suffered so much.

    "That will now go before the People and Communities Committee ahead of its hopeful ratification at the full Council meeting. It means any parent in Belfast who has to experience the tragic loss of their child, no matter their background, should not have to worry about the financial implications at such a terrible time."
    16 August

    A motion of no confidence is to be brought against UUP Councillor Jim Rodgers by Alliance after concerns were raised over his behaviour in relation to his role as Chair of Belfast City Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, the main decision-making Committee on the Council.

    Alliance Councillor Michael Long said the concerns related to Councillor Rodgers' actions in calling special meetings and making negative comments about Council staff in the media during appearances over the July holidays.

    "While appearing on BBC's Nolan Show last month, Councillor Rodgers made a series of negative comments about Council staff in relation to their actions with respect to controversial bonfires in East Belfast over the 11th July. That is not acceptable, particularly given the sheer hypocrisy shown by Councillor Rodgers when he praised the same staff during internal council meetings," said Councillor Long.

    "In addition, we were concerned about the behaviour of the Chair in relation to the calling of special meetings in the early part of July. Such delays made it increasingly difficult to get decisions around controversial issues taken.

    "The feedback I have received from both staff and Councillors has been one of great disappointment in Councillor Rodgers, especially given the huge efforts staff members made during the period. I therefore have decided to seek a vote of no confidence in the Chair. If it passes, he should consider his position. At the very least, Councillor Rodgers should publicly apologise to Council staff for his hypocritical, disparaging remarks."

  • 8 August

    East Belfast Alliance Councillor Peter McReynolds has praised the emergency services for dealing with a suspected gas explosion in Ballyhackamore.

    One person has been injured following the incident, which happened at a recently opened restaurant on the Upper Newtownards Road around 4pm this afternoon. The road remains closed, with concerns remaining about the stability of the building.

    "The facts are still emerging but one man has been taken to hospital with injuries. My thoughts are with him and I hope he makes a swift recovery," said Councillor McReynolds.

    "While concerns remain about the building being unstable, I am thankful no other injuries or damage has been reported to date. We could have easily been dealing with a far worse outcome.

    "This is a built-up residential and commercial area, so I want to give my thanks to the emergency services, who were quick on the scene and helped with a difficult situation."

  • Patricia O'Lynn
    8 August

    Alliance North Antrim representative Patricia O'Lynn has said the people of the constituency can make a stand for transparent politics by signing the recall petition against Ian Paisley.

    Ms O'Lynn was speaking as the petition opened across three locations in the constituency - in Ballymoney, Ballymena and Ballycastle - until September 19. If 10 per cent of the eligible electorate sign, a by-election will subsequently take place.

    "This petition is a chance for the people of North Antrim to say they have had enough, and take a stand against repeated scandals, and to demand clean and transparent politics," she said.

    "The recall petition process is only in play because Ian Paisley did not do the right thing and resign his position. He has let down both himself and every person in North Antrim with his actions to date - not only did he not declare his paid-for Sri Lankan holidays but he has still to explain why he then subsequently lobbied against a UN resolution on the country.

    "Alliance is calling on local people to sign this petition and help create a new confidence in politics by increasing openness and transparency."
  • Patricia O'Lynn
    3 August

    Alliance North Antrim representative Patricia O'Lynn has called on the people of the constituency to make their voices heard after the recall petition against Ian Paisley was opened.

    Three locations across North Antrim will be available from August 8 until September 19, following the suspension of Ian Paisley as an MP for 30 sitting days. A by-election will be triggered if 10 per cent of the eligible electorate in North Antrim - around 7,500 people - sign the petition.

    "There is no denying the current MP for North Antrim let down both himself and his constituents with his behaviour, which resulted in the suspension and subsequent recall petition," said Ms O'Lynn.

    "Alliance is therefore registering as an official campaigner during this process and calling for the people of North Antrim to sign this petition and show the DUP there are serious questions over the trust they can give them.

    "It is disappointing only three venues will be available and during working hours. However, constituents will be able to apply for the postal option and I encourage them to do so.

    "If we are to regain the trust of the wider public in politics, there must be full openness and transparency from all and an end to the ongoing corruption which has been alleged lately. The people of North Antrim want clean politics and I am confident they will sign this petition to ensure just that."

    The three venues, which will be open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday between August 8 and September 19 are -

    Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, Ballymoney

    Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Ballymena

    Sheskburn House Recreation Centre, Ballycastle

    Only voters registered in North Antrim are eligible. People can also apply to sign by post or proxy, with application forms at eoni.org.uk. Dedicated helplines are available at 02890 446 600 and 02890 446 668.

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