Causeway Coast & Glens Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop has welcomed the decision by council to support the Friends of Glenariff project to allow them to go to the next stage for further funding.
However she has expressed her disappointment at the DUP for taking a despicable approach to the funding of a community and sports facility for the people of Glenariff.
She says their reckless approach to the senior legal advice they requested and to then ignore it could have left the council in a difficult legal position had the vote have went their way!
The Friends of Glenariff, a cross community group, have worked hard to raise funds for a new community and sports facility, setting an example to every community across the Borough. They have kept council abreast of their plans at every stage and received wide spread and cross party support – that is, until they wanted financial support from council.
The DUP have made a major issue out of the names linked to the park and their previous association with the IRA of the 1920’s. At the council meeting on 24th May the names on the gates were cited as the reason the DUP could not support the cross community group’s proposal.
However, at the previous committee stage on 10th May, the DUP could not bring themselves to support the project which was BEFORE the names were known or had become an issue. Which leads to the question: Are the DUP so bigoted that they don’t want to see a single pound spent in a nationalist area?
When the gates became an issue the GAA decided to move them. But that still wasn’t good enough. Three months on it seems the DUP want the park renamed after 70 years of cross community activity on the site. I can’t help but wonder if it was called the Ian Paisley Memorial Park if they still wouldn’t find some reason to vote against it.
Parallels with the Dungiven sports facility are stark. There, even after all the funding preconditions laid down by Unionists were met, the DUP could still not bring themselves to vote for money going to a Nationalist area.
The public should also reflect on the legal mess that council would now find itself in had the DUP won the vote on Tuesday 23rd August. Flying in he face of the very legal opinion they asked for, it would surely put council in unchartered territory with potentially a hefty legal bill.
The approach by the DUP at a local level seems in stark contrast to their Stormont approach where they seem to be able to work very well together, ensuring that £60 million of government funding goes to Casement Park. Perhaps their group leader should be writing to the DUP party leader over this.