Northern Ireland council to push ahead with ‘constitutional change’ workshops as unionist representatives boycott good relations task force
Council Good Relations Task Force meeting minutes show councilors received an update on the delivery of workshops following the local authority’s backing of a controversial motion in May of Last year.
The motion, put forward by Sinn Fein councilor John McNamee, asks the council to consult with its constituents on the issue and the implications for the council estate of the constitutional change.
The motion passed with all 25 members of Aontu, SDLP, Sinn Fein and Independent Councilors voting in favor while the 15 members of DUP and UUP voted against the proposal.
At the Good Relations Working Group meeting in March, which no trade union advisers attended, those present were informed that terms of reference for the workshops had been drawn up and sent for quotation with the hope that five online events and one outreach event will take place in June.
The terms of reference include a member reference group that would be used to facilitate member recommendations and feedback and a registration mechanism will be put in place to gauge the level of participation of district residents.
Members of the working group agreed that once an implementer was appointed, members would be contacted regarding the establishment of the member reference group specific to that work. Following this, a meeting will be called according to the terms of reference and discussed during the meeting.
Meanwhile, the council’s good relations task force has been dubbed a “nationalist relations task force” by a DUP adviser.
The Council’s 2021-26 Equality Agenda requires meetings of the Good Corporate Relations Working Group to be held for the purpose of promoting good relations in areas such as flags, emblems, language, bonfires, street names and internal and external aspects of good relations.
However, in December last year, the chairman of the committee, UUP councilor Derek McKinney, explained that he would not be attending meetings of this working group as he felt “that it is not there are no good relations on the board.
Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday March 9, discussed at a council policy and resources committee meeting last Thursday, show that only Sinn Fein councilors John McNamee, Sean McPeake, Cora Corry, Niamh Doris and Ian Milne were present along with SDLP adviser, Martin Kearney.
Earlier, DUP advisers Kim Ashton, Paul McLean and Kyle Black apologized for not attending the meeting. However, the minutes note that no apologies were received for absences from this meeting.
Commenting on the minutes, Ms Ashton noted that the composition of the Good Relations Working Group is “really now the Nationalist Relations Working Group because there are no trade unionists involved in it”.
“Our parties are concerned about the money being spent through this channel for a united Ireland,” she said.