Row over new robes for local councillors

Craigavon's new Deputy Mayor, Sinn fein's Catherine Seeley.
Craigavon's new Deputy Mayor, Sinn fein's Catherine Seeley.
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A row over new robes for councillors has erupted after Sinn Fein lambasted a decision to recommend buying new ones.

Last week councillors in the Governance, Policy and Resources Committee voted to recommend Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council use existing robes and buy extra ones to make up the shortfall.

Previously both Craigavon and Armagh Councils had robes for aldermen, councillors, mayors, macebearers and chief executives, although Banbridge Council did not.

Currently both former councils have a total of 45 robes, some red and some blue, some with fur and some without.

The cost of buying new robes would be £1,000 each.

Deputy Mayor Catherine Seeley described any plan to buy new robes as ‘a waste of rate payers money’.

“All indications show that the current council budget is under pressure. To spend £1,000 on each new robe for purely ceremonial use cannot be justified.

“This is at a time when we have a surplus of robes from both the merging of councils and the fact that Sinn Féin councillors will not wear robes which set us apart from those who have elected us.

“Our priorities need to be schemes such as town centre regeneration, support and funding for community groups, youth intervention and tending to green spaces as the grass hasn’t even been cut on many of these,” said the Sinn Fein councillor

A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said the committee had voted on an option to use both Armagh and Craigavon robes with the option to buy extra ones to make up any shortfall if required.

“The decision will come before full Council on 22nd June and its likely there will be further debate on it,” said the spokesperson.