A proposal to have all meetings of Craigavon Borough Council recorded on tape was rejected during an angry meeting on Monday.
The proposal was put forward after the accuracy of previous minutes was questioned so much
But it was defeated 13-9 on an Orange-Green vote, with unionists opposed and nationalists in support. It was the first time the recording issue was raised in the council’s 41-year history, and with just a year before it will be disbanded to make way for the ‘super council’.
In a bear pit of a meeting – just two months prior to the ‘super-councils’ elections – items like the flying of flags and the so-called ‘out-of-jail’ letters for terror suspects were raised.
Such was the antagonism between the parties that the ‘record-the-meetings’ suggestion emerged from the confusion.
Sinn Fein’s Tom O’Connor and DUP’s Carla Lockhart locked horns over who proposed what in a committee. Lockhart demanded an apology, to which O’Connor retorted, “I’m not apologising to DUP in any shape or form.”
Alliance’s Conrad Dixon said that recording equipment was inexpensive these days and could be obtained for about £20. Councillor Darryn Causby – “It would need a very long tape.”
Councillor Robert Smith – “What a waste of time – why not go the whole way and film meetings?”
Sinn Féin Councillor Liam Mackle said, “It is concerning that all unionist councillors voted to block the move to record council meetings. They should be transparent in all their political activities. In light of media reports over the last year about unionist politicians and their relationships with some companies and businesses, there is a real need to build confidence within the community for the political process.
“What is there to lose, or hide, from meetings being recorded? Other councils such as Belfast City Council, where Sinn Féin is the largest political party, actually televise proceedings on their website. The unionist members of Craigavon Council really need to move into the 21st century.”