Heated debate on history lessons for councillors

The DUP’s unwillingness to participate in Good Relations seminars was brought up during a heated debate at Monday’s night’s mid-monthly council meeting.

Voices were raised and tempers flared during the discussion regarding training for elected representatives on the upcoming Decade of Centenaries.

Sinn Fein questioned the DUP’s particiation in Good Relations seminars, with the DUP hitting back by saying the training was inconvenient and didn’t offer ratepayers value for money. Furthermore several DUP members said they didn’t wish to be involved in training on such events as the Easter Rising.

DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart questioned why the item was on the agenda given Craigavon Council has only a year and a half to run in its current form. “There are centenaries on this list that are not part of Northern Ireland’s history,” she added.

The Easter Rising, Battle Of The Somme and Partition are among the history lessons for councillors.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mark O’Dowd said: “I’ve no problem with learning about the Battle of the Somme. So why don’t we sit down like adults and discuss our shared history?

“I don’t know where Councillor Lockhart has been living if she thinks partition isn’t part of our history.”

Many councillors had to raise their voices to be heard over dissenting cries from opposing members.

DUP Alderman Sydney Anderson said: “The Easter Rising doesn’t sit with me. It did not take place in Northern Ireland. I certainly wouldn’t have anything to do with this training.”

SDLP Councillor Joe Nelson said: “It is nonsense to think our history is only relative to something that happens in Northern Ireland.”

Sinn Fein’s Gemma McKenna said: “This training is optional. If the DUP want to remain stuck in their ways and not be educated that’s their decision, but other councillors should be allowed to go.”

DUP Alderman Stephen Moutray said the main reason why his party hadn’t attended Good Relations events was that they take place during the day when his party are at work.

Sinn Fein’s Liam Mackle became particular incensed, stating that: “Other DUP members in other councils go to Good Relations training. The problem isn’t the DUP, it’s the DUP in Craigavon.”

The DUP’s Darren Causby said SF had instilled a fear in the unionist community by refusing to honour traditions.