Concern over Peace body appointment

Declan O'Loan. INBT 22-130JC
Declan O'Loan. INBT 22-130JC

SDLP Councillor Declan O’Loan has condemned a decision by Mid & East Antrim Council to appoint only Unionist members to a Partnership which will administer a potential £2.6 million of European Peace IV funds across the borough.

Nominations were sought at Council’s May monthly meeting for the appointment of six councillors for the establishment of a PEACE IV Partnership with an officer recommendation that this be done using the D’Hondt system which would require the selection of three DUP, two UUP and one TUV councillors.

Guidance from the SEUPB (Special European Union Programmes Body) referred to “six members representing the main political groups”.

Councillors went on to agree a proposal by DUP Ald Gregg McKeen, seconded by Cr Timothy Gaston, to approve the recommendation to use D’Hondt by a majority vote of 19 for with 10 against and three abstentions.

Cllr Declan O’Loan appealed to the meeting to “have some consideration and compose a partnership that fairly reflects the communities that exists in our society”.

Backing his view, Alliance Cr Robert Logan described having solely unionist representatives as “absolutely appalling” and UUP Cr Stephen Nicholl said “having an entirely unionist political representation on a Peace partnership is not a way forward”.

Speaking afterwards Cr O’Loan stated: “Peace IV funding is designed to support peace and reconciliation, to improve cross- community relations and further integrate divided communities. That cannot be done by bringing only a unionist perspective to decisions on the funding.”