Harkness speaks out

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ALLOWING only unionists to be Mayor or Deputy Mayor of Craigavon is ‘morally wrong’, a UUP councillor has said.

Cllr Ronnie Harkness was the only unionist to vote for the D’Hondt system of power sharing as Craigavon Council debated the issue last week.

Explaining his stance Cllr Harkness said: “I have advocated over these past four years that I cannot accept that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor should come from the two unionist camps. Such action is morally wrong, given the mandate each party has received from the electorate.

“It will therefore come as no surprise that I supported the introduction of the D’Hondt system in this Council, in order that the main posts are shared amongst all parties – all five parties , to prove that Craigavon is ready and prepared to move forward into the future.

“The chance of obtaining ‘city’ status has been lost due mainly to the intransigence of the DUP and the continuing polarisation in handing out the two main posts will, I believe, ensure that Craigavon will also miss out on being the administration centre when the amalgamation with Armagh and Banbridge comes into being.”

He went on: “Up at Stormont , the DUP in tandem with Sinn Fein , has accepted the recommendations for the change in local government, thus ensuring that our capital city, Belfast has been handed over to nationalist control.

“Furthermore the DUP acquiescence to a Conflict Resolution Centre being built at the Maze is tantamount to a shrine in memory of IRA terrorists.

“Chairman of the N.I.Assembly Commission , William Hay of the DUP has announced an agreed approach to commemorate The Easter Rising of 1916 within Parliament Buildings.

“However, the cosy agreement between the two main parties on the hill doesn’t extend itself to Craigavon barely 40 minutes down the road.

“It must be the change of air in County Armagh that alters the ‘let’s share everything’ approach at Stormont to the old DUP mantra of ‘never, never, never’ in Craigavon.

“First Minister Peter Robinson is in the media on a daily basis with Mr McGuinness (and we all know about his terrorist past) whilst local DUP councillors fail to participate in the annual Council official photograph. Perhaps it is time that the First Minister needs to point out to the two Upper Bann DUP MLAs that their party appears to want to move in what they perceive as a forward direction whilst locally the DUP is ensconced in a time warp.

“It is very noticeable that certain councils around the province have shown themselves to be encouragers - in the same vein as Her Majesty the Queen - sadly I would appear to be the only Unionist member of Craigavon Borough Council able to follow Her Majesty’s lead.”