Row erupts over the much ‘superior’ Lurgan lights

Cllr Liam Mackle
Cllr Liam Mackle

Sinn Fein has accused the DUP of playing petty party politics with ratepayers’ cash after a row over the allocation of money towards Christmas lights in Lurgan and Portadown.

Councillor Liam Mackle lambasted the DUP after the party proposed spending £8k on additional decorations for Portadown at a recent meeting of Craigavon Council.

“The proposal was put to council by the DUP despite the fact that an additional £10,000 spend had already been agreed to,” said Mr Mackle.

He described the DUP action as a hypocritical move which highlighted a total lack of financial prudence.

“This was a blatant self-serving move by a party grouping that has apparently lost any sense of the morality and financial prudence that they may once have possessed. The same DUP group demanded that council officials cut leisure and recreational facilities across the borough in order to save ratepayers’ money, yet based on a hope that it would help their faltering political fortunes they proposed spending an additional £8,000 on Portadown’s Christmas decorations.”

Mr Mackle accused the DUP of showing total disregard for the ratepayer by making this proposal which was based on nothing more than a whim.

“They proposed an £8,000 spend without any idea of how the decorations could be improved and more importantly without any consideration of the ratepayers in the rest of the district. This was an attempt to curry favour with unionist voters in Portadown and an ill-considered insult to their own voters and the ratepayers in both Central and in Lurgan. Fortunately council as a body showed better sense than the DUP and accepted a UUP amendment to send the issue back to the development committee.”

At that meeting DUP Councillor Darryn Causby had claimed that Portadown was being treated unfairly with its “mish-mash of a display compared with the superb show in Lurgan”.

He added that a request for an additional £10,000 was small change compared to the £500,000 being spent to improve the Civic Centre in the teeth of the reorganisation of local government in 2015.

“There must be a proper connection from Edenderry to the main streets,” he added. “The town simply deserves better than the poor shows of the past.”

Councillor Gemma McKenna said that an additional £8,000 had been agreed by the committee, but Councillor Colin McCusker said that had been reduced from £27,000, which wasn’t good enough.

Alderman Arnold Hatch then made a proposal that it should be discussed at Wednesday’s night committee meeting and the decision taken at the mid-monthly full council meeting. Councillor Ken Twyble agreed that Lurgan’s display was superior, adding that Portadown’s public street lighting left a lot to be desired. “The street lighting is simply not up to scratch.”