Firsts in Down and Strabane Councils

Sinn Fein-dominated Strabane Council (the party holds 8 of the 16 seats) has elected its first DUP chairman, Thomas Kerrigan, with the unanimous support of the Council. However, the election of the Vice-chairman, Sinn Fein’s Gerard Foley, did not receive the reciprocal backing of the DUP. Five years ago, Mr. Kerrigan’s decision to shake hands with Sinn Fein’s Ivan Barr led to the DUP man finding himself on the receiving end of some criticism from unionist quarters. There was no repeat handshake last night.

Meanwhile, Down Council has its first Sinn Fein chairman, Willie Clarke.

  • Where’s Darth Rumsfeld to lecture us on the sectarian cess pit that is Strabane?

    This is the future. Its bright and its Orange..with Green backing.

    Fair play to all who did the right thing at the Council and Good luck to Gerard Foley, a decent, progressive man from my very own Clady.

  • Yokel

    Chairmen, Mayors, its all symbolism and thats the problem, its symbolism. Nationalist mayors in Belfast, DUP in Strabane. Mayors are largely symbolic and allocations such as this are largely symbolic and thus effing useless. Anyone who calls it otherwise is thinking that this symbolism means something in reality, one of the main problems with the North.

    Don’t know about the rest of you but I’d be more interested in trying to stop people being bricked or given a kicking for their religion that seems to occur on regular basis. But sure thats far less important than symbolism.

  • Comparing a Nationalist Mayor in Belfast where the Unionist seat majority isn’t as pronounced and requires Alliance backing in order to acquire such a Mayor with a DUP mayor in Strabane where there is a clear Nationalist majority and SF backed the Mayor isn’t comparing like with like.

    Yes, its symbolic, in our part of Ireland, symbols mean a lot.

    The most important house in the area has shown an example to the rest, now unless you can forge a way of entering every house in the area and stamping out sectarianism, i humbly suggest this is a good a START as any.

  • lib2016

    Excellent news. Congratulations to all concerned, including the DUP who had to go along with this for it to succeed. Well done all around.

  • Prince Eoghan

    How long do Nationalists have to be gratefull for the DUP allowing them to lick their boots?

    Can there ever be progress while this goes on?

    Do we all have to dress up in the clothes of yore, to suit the prevalent mindset?

  • lib2016

    Prince E.

    Only fair – I’m ready enough to criticise them on other issues so if they manage to do something right I’m glad of the opportunity to acknowledge it.

  • larneman

    Why is this news??? It is all over Radio Ulster this morning.

    This is Strabane where they pass motions calling for a UI- very inclusive and relevant to the work of a district council

    My hometown,(which has such a great reputation amongst the chattering classes in the media), has a voluntary position sharing agreement whereby all party groups will have the mayorship before the end of its term. Therefore there will be an SDLP Mayor next week depite the fact that there are only two nationalists out of 15.

    Never heard about that? quelle surprise.

  • Prince Eoghan

    I am heartily sick of being fair, some are allowed to throw tantrums, flout intolerance and be flat out repulsive. If we all lived like that I suppose the DUPES would have a million plus members.

    How about a bit of fairness from them, if only.

  • reality check

    yes larneman no surprise.but the sdlp mayor danny o’connor is basically a unionist with a high profile udr past

  • larneman

    Any form of power-sharing is commendable, so well done Larne.

    However, there are two big differences with lanr and Strabane in this instance.

    Larne Council know that a SF Mayor isn’t a possibility whereas in Strabane a DUP mayor is actually voted in.

    Secondly, Larne power-sharing is shared between various parties and not between Unionist and Nationalist parties, so SDLP being one of 5 parties elected only holds the mayorship for a fifth of the time.

    Its a step in the right direction, granted, but there is a leap in Strabane in comparison, hence, the extra coverage.

    P.S Wouldn’t say ‘Quelle Surprise’ too loudly in Larne, might be mistaken for Gaelic and could be trouble 😉

    (sorry too much goodwill for one day…just joking mate)

  • Jacko

    No fan of the shinners but I want to acknowledge their part in this bit of reaching out to the “other side”. Congrats and well done to all the nationalists on Strabane council.

    Somewhere along the line, the DUP are going to have to start acting like adults. At the very least, adopting a code of behaviour in line with basic good manners would be a start.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Jacko.

    Don’t you have to be reasonably civilised first to do that?

    Look I don’t intend to be facetious about this, but for how long can this go on before we all get fed up, and someone does something stupid?

    Everyone knows the DUPES are just waiting around until someone conjures up some more plausible bullshit not to share power.

  • larneman

    cladycowboy

    “Larne Council know that a SF Mayor isn’t a possibility whereas in Strabane a DUP mayor is actually voted in. ”

    hardly the fault of Larne Council that SF can’t get elected to it

    “Secondly, Larne power-sharing is shared between various parties and not between Unionist and Nationalist parties, so SDLP being one of 5 parties elected only holds the mayorship for a fifth of the time.”

    Not strictly accurate 4 not 5 parties involved and it was a deliberate decision to share all positions (incl. DPP Chairmanships) around to send out a positive message to the community about a shared future. There was never the slightest suggestion that a Unionist bloc be formed to take all the posts. (this info from an inside source)

    This was done last year post the election- an agreement for the full term.
    The point I was making was that this was released to the media and it got NO coverage whatsoever, whereas this Strabane story is being hyped up as being peace and love in our time.

    ps Kids with Rangers tops play hurley round our parts!!!!

  • larneman

    “hardly the fault of Larne Council that SF can’t get elected to it”

    Thats very true but i can’t really see the Council implementing this power-sharing if SF did have councillors in Larne. In fact, i could see the power-sharing being repealed if a SF councillor won a by-election.

    I’ve already said that Larne is making moves to make things better with power-sharing, just that they’ve further to go than Strabane at the present.

    Its not peace and love in our time but its a good start, and it is exceptional comparative to other Councils.

    Get those lads to the nearest Hurling club, then Antrim could take Ireland as well as Ulster!

  • Keith M

    So to summarise, in one nationalist dominated council (Strabane), there is position sharing going on and in another nationalist controlled council(Down)there is not.

    The “power sharing” is inappropriate here as coiucil chairperson’s have little or no real power).

    I think Larneman’s posts here are most interesting given the lack of press coverage when a unionist dominated council also undertakes position sharing.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Keith M.

    I take it you didn’t read cladycowboy’s posts. He more than adequately rebuffs what you are hinting at.

  • Keith M

    Eoghan I read cladycowboy’s posts, but they only dealt with suppositions. My observations (and those of larneman) arebased on the reality of the here and now.

  • reality check

    larneman-sf’s james mckeown narrowly missed out on election to larne borough council last year by 30 votes.imagine the trouble the likes of jack mckee etc would have caused if mr mckeown had been successful

  • reality check

    keith m-powersharing also doesn’t take place in ballymena,ballymoney or coleraine borough councils and of course lisburn plus newtownabbey as well

  • Prince Eoghan

    Keith.

    Not so fast mate. Do you seriously mean to tell us the DUPES would rotate power with SF.

  • Keith M

    Eoghan this is a separate arguement, away from the reality of what’s happening in Larne or Stabane.

    I don’t wish to get involved in conjecture, but I would hope that the DUP would not be involved in any arrangement with SF/IRA until such time as the majority of unionists consider SF/IRA to be a democratic party. In my opinion how long the decontamination/trust building period lasts is up to the unionist community, not the DUP leadership.

    Welcome gestures by SF/IRA in places like Strabane may help the unionist community to trust them in the longer term, but there’s still a long way to go.

  • Declan Walsh

    Keith, Keith, Keith; you are quick to ask others to check their facts. Down district council was the FIRST council in the North to powershare. Sharing means that at some point, nationalists hold the position. Just as Down has had a DUP Mayor in the past, it now has a SF Mayor.

    The council has been SDLP controlled for years and they are the party that always shared the positions.

    Quelle Suprise!
    Now, lets have some honest debate:
    Do you agree with the principle of position sharing for councils?
    Or
    Do you agree with the DUP’s policy against it?

  • Prince Eoghan

    Keith.

    So Republicans continue to lick boots until the DUP or whomever is representing Unionists say so.

    Democracy anyone?

  • Declan Walsh

    So why don’t the DUP share with SDLP?
    Do they need decontamination too?
    What trust-building measures do you believe the DUP need to do to become “clean” in the eyes of the majority of nationalists?

  • Gum

    Keith, when are you going to recognize that about a fifth of the people vote SF? You dont have to like it but you should respect it. Words such as ‘decontamination’ are ugly and suggest SF and their voters are somehow dirty or less clean than you. Just as with Trimble’s ‘house trained’ comment, its not helpful for creating any sense of (perhaps grudging but nonetheless mutual) respect.

    Comments like this do nothing to dispel the notion that unionists dont want to share power as they see republicans as something less than human.

  • Keith M

    Some observations for you to add to my suppositions.

    SF majority Councils share power with the DUP.

    DUP majority Councils refuse to share power with SF. (something you agree with, because of SF perceived paramilitary links)

    DUP majority Councils share power with UUP (they with the UVF spokesman)

    Can you at least give credit for the lack of hypocracy shown by Strabane Council as opposed to DUP controlled councils?

  • Prince Eoghan

    Another thing about the gracious DUPES, why take and no give? They will gladly take the lead role at the behest of Sinn Fein, but no reciprocation.

  • Keith M

    Declan I stand corrected on Down. You ask for example of the DUP sharing positions with the SDLP, and last week’s mayoral election in Belfast is once such example and Larneman has supplied another.

    “Do you agree with the principle of position sharing for councils?”. I don’t believe that you can make such a generalisation. In this country arrangements are made by parties on a council by council basis and I think that is the correct way to go.

    Gum, I used the “decontamination periiod” as that tends to be the most commonly used phrase and cropped up simultainiously on a separate thread. Personally I prefer the phrase “period of trust building”.

  • McIlveen

    This stuff is nothing, in ards borough council, the DUP will only allow someone from a different party to become mayor because they cannot bring themselves to vote for each other – probably over a dispute concerning someone sitting in someones pew in church one week. The DUPs just don’t like to share power with anyone, unionist, nationalist or neither. Thats just the way of them.

  • M. Gibbs, Chicago

    Jacko: Somewhere along the line, the DUP are going to have to start acting like adults. At the very least, adopting a code of behaviour in line with basic good manners would be a start.

    Couldn’t agree more, but where can they learn it? Hardly from the source of all of their other ideas and attitudes, the “Reverend”!

  • Prince Eoghan

    The competition is now on to find examples of when the DUP have acted with common courtesy. Anyone who provides evidence of them going above and beyond wins a gold star. Sorry gold is probably the wrong colour isn’t it.

  • kensei

    “Gum, I used the “decontamination periiod” as that tends to be the most commonly used phrase and cropped up simultainiously on a separate thread. Personally I prefer the phrase “period of trust building”.”

    Or you know, you could just try respecting their mandate. What a wacky idea!

  • Keith M

    C’mon, want to address the hypocracy?
    If it was as quiet around Croke Park during the summer as you are now, you’d be in heavenly bliss.

  • cladycowboy on Jun 07, 2006 @ 04:58 PM wrote “…around Croke Park during the summer…” I remember him posting against everything related to Croker but I never assumed he lived on DNS (excluding Clontarf, Castleknock or Howth of course, but that’s purely an accident of geography). My God he’s a very ordinary Dub.

    Maybe a Bohs fan?

    (sorry for the aside but it relates to the poster on another thread)

  • Keith M

    kensei “Or you know, you could just try respecting their mandate. What a wacky idea!”.

    Alternativly SF/IRA could give up the activity that makes them untrustworthy coalition partners not only for unionists but for all the parties in this country as well, now THERE’s a whacky idea.

    cladycowboy, I think that this covers your point as well, parties like FG in this country won’t go into any local agreement at council level with SF/IRA.