COUNCILS, including Craigavon Borough Council, accused of failing to share power between unionists and nationalists are operating within the law as it stands, First Minister Peter Robinson has said.
But the DUP leader said he would give Environment Minister Alex Attwood every assistance in progressing power sharing legislation set to apply to all new councils.
He said: “He can look to legal issues as much as he likes, but people are working within the present law and that’s what they should do.”
Mr Robinson’s pledge to Mr Attwood was welcomed by Ulster Unionist councillor Ronnie Harkness.
“It is obvious,” said Cllr Harkness, “that Alderman Moutray, Alderman Anderson and their DUP colleagues on Craigavon Borough Council are very much out of touch with the views of their party leader.
“Indeed I would appear to be more closely aligned to the First Minister’s thinking on this issue than DUP councillors in Craigavon. As you can imagine that really gives me cause for concern!
“The DUP led by their two double jobbing MLAs (and they confirmed they would be continuing in their dual roles at last Monday’s council meeting), is impeding future progress on the council and they really must drag themselves from the politics of the past.”
“Minister Attwood has intimated he will bring legislation forward to ensure equality in distributing the two top council posts and that this will be enacted prior to the local councils amalgamating in 2015.
“It is therefore very ironic that it was the behaviour of the DUP at the Craigavon Borough Council’s AGM that provoked Minister Attwood to take immediate action to address this contentious issue.”