The Lengths A Mayor- And Some Senior Council Officers- Will Go To….

The case of the UUP Mayor of Lisburn, the leading loyalist and the Stoneyford beacon continues to rumble following the revelation that Mayor Ronnie Crawford invited loyalist Mark Harbinson into his chamber to help fill in his application form for money for the controversial 11th Night event in the village (Andersonstown News story not yet online.) The Mayor also called on the services of two senior Lisburn Council officials (Director of Leisure Services, Robert McKnight and Good Relations Officer, David Mitchell) to assist the leading loyalist figure in completing the form, which secured £2,400 worth of funding from the Community Relations Council (CRC) for the beacon gathering in the village. Mayor Crawford then attached a personal letter of recommendation to the application and arranged for a courier to collect the application form from Council premises (the issue of whether ratepayer’s money was used for this courtesy has not yet been confirmed by the Council.)The funding was subsequently withdrawn by the CRC when it was revealed that the Mayor had lit the beacon with a poster of the local Sinn Fein MLA on top of it. Of course, the village residents who days earlier had been intimidated from their homes by local loyalists remain far from impressed. The loyalist figure involved in organising the beacon gathering, Mark Harbinson, had just weeks earlier been arrested and questioned about a series of attacks and threats on another catholic family, who also fled the village.
Since the rendezvous in the Mayor’s parlour, Harbinson’s Pride of the Village flute band have applied to march on five evenings in the month of September, including in their proposed route the two mixed housing developments in the village which have been the setting for the on-going sectarian attacks in recent years, which has led to eight families fleeing the village as a consequence, but no prosecutions to date. The Parades Commission have taken firm action against the proposed September parades, something which has deeply angered long-time Harbinson associate, TUV councillor Cecil Calvert (pictured with the loyalis figure, the Mayor and two other ‘revellers’ at the 11th Night gathering above.)
Ironically, the latest information has come to light as a DUP and Sinn Fein-supported Council investigation into the role played by council staff in securing the funds continues as the former party’s ties with Mr. Harbinson have well and truly been cut following the latter’s well-publicised failure to become a party member some years ago. At that time, the resentful loyalist went on Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme to complain about how, as a party election worker, he had felt betrayed by the DUP, though he did thank the local representatives who supported his application.
The animosity between Harbinson and the DUP was confirmed at last year’s beacon gathering, when then DUP Mayor, James Tinsley, claimed he had been intimidated at the event by loyalists. Days prior to this year’s beacon burning, loyalists erected a large banner mocking the DUP councillor at the site of the beacon.

  • truth and justice

    Mark Harbinson has been so anti UUP since the Belfast Agreement and now he is runing cap in hand to get funding from them rather strange????????

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    is that Harbinson in the rangers jacket?

  • Steve

    standard fair i would say t & J

  • Driftwood

    For some reason, the film Deliverance has entered my consciousness. Can Harbinson play the banjo as well as the flute?
    What a shower of prats.

  • William

    Chris Donnelly….at least they were only burning a poster….not Orange Halls or murdering folk like your mates in Sinn Fein / IRA

  • Steve

    No William they were burning GAA halls and murdering people, but oh yeah uniopnism doesn’t dooooooo that do they?

  • Big Maggie

    Harbinson’s Pride of the Village flute band have applied to march on five evenings in the month of September.

    They’ll only get marching the first evening, 9 September. Next day we’ll all be obliterated when the Hadron Collider sucks us all, including the entire solar system, into a black hole. Good riddance I say. It’s hard to march out of an event horizon.

  • The Raven

    Chris, just a couple of very minor points.

    If a councillor requests a member of staff to assist a member of the public in filling out a form for grant assistance, they are pretty much duty-bound to do so.

    Indeed, any member of the public doesn’t even have to go to the lengths of asking the Mayor or any other Councillor. They can pretty much walk in and ask for said assistance, regardless of the cause for which they are asking assistance.

    The Good Relations officer being almost vilified in this piece for assisting a member of the public to fill out a form for Good Relations funding, does not really reflect fairly on his position. He’d be duty-bound to do so unless there was a conflict of interest to his post. Which in this case there was not.

    Can we focus therefore on the politicians in this thread? It’s only fair. I find the “report demanded” by elected representatives frankly appalling. Equally the same scenario could have happened if the officer had refused to assist.

    If there’s a flaw here, it’s in the chain of command. Councillors are supposed to issue instructions through the Chief Executive, which then goes down to director level and on then to the officer in question. Perhaps that happened.

    The sooner there is a mandatory code of conduct for these reprobates, the better.

    By the by, a Good Relations officer in a council is not a “senior” position.

  • RepublicanStones

    Raven does what you’ve just meticulously detailed explain the ear to ear grins on each of their faces? Im sure you’ll dig up an amendment somewhere in council legislation where it is demanded councillers must have such a hearty big grin on their ‘bakes’.
    Or perhaps you may care to put down the double standards, do they not become heavy after a while?

  • Big Maggie

    Yes, RepublicanStones, you’ve said it well. There’s too much of Raven’s disingenousness in Northern Ireland. If one wishes to find an officious way to excuse ugly sectarianist conduct, one usually can. Doesn’t make that conduct right or indeed honourable.

  • The dup need to house train some of their own

  • Paul

    From the Gentry to the Scum;

    Unionism… sectarian to the core.

  • Continental Drifter

    Can someone explain to me:
    a) why Cllr Crawford is still Mayor of Lisburn (as civic rep of all the people)? and
    b) why Cllr Crawford is still a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (“For All of Us”)?

    This is a big test for the UUP – if they are serious about removing the sectarian baggage with the Tory link, then they, well, need to remove the sectarian baggage…

  • iluvni

    This is the same Cllr Crawford who is a big fan of the Maze Stadium proposal…’shared future’ and all that!
    lol! what a prick.

  • Rory

    …and there was me thinking that this was an innocent happy photograph of an inaugural meeting of a new Weight Watchers’ group.

  • The Raven

    I focused on the comment made about the Council officer. I don’t think that the following….

    “Can we focus therefore on the politicians in this thread? It’s only fair. I find the “report demanded” by elected representatives frankly appalling.”

    “The sooner there is a mandatory code of conduct for these reprobates, the better.”

    …disingenuous, and I think that hammering a Council officer does nothing but take the focus off the real issue. My post does not “explain the ear to ear grins”. Nor did it set out to.

    Ultimately, the “report” demanded will show that an elected official requested assistance from Council officers, and it was duly given.

    Perhaps y’all would be happier, if instead of addressing the points I did, join in the happy bleat of “I condemn”…?

    Seems to be the increasingly instant response on threads like this.

  • Peking

    The man to Crawford’s left looks amazingly like another sitting UUP Councillor (Alderman, actually) and ex-MLA from Lisburn.

  • Llamedos

    Regretfully the UUP will have to stop maverick coucillors behaving in this deplorable way. Both the Brush and Mayor Biscuit have used Harbison to further their political advancement by various means amongst others poster erection at election time. The real question that requires an answer is whether Harbison was or is a member of the UUP? This type of political behaviour cannot be tolerated in the UUP and within its new rules disciplinary action should be instituted by the UUP officer team who should carry out a full investigation.The days have long gone when Unionist politicians hid under the veneer of qualification or so called justification that paramilitaries and their accolytes are SonsofaGun but they are then given lattitude as they are our SonsofaGun. It will no longer wash with the electorate. The hopefully proposed Conservative and Ulster Unionist party will not tolerate such bigotted and openly sectarian acts of provocation.
    There is no doubt that voluntary house training that other parties of all shades should enter into. If they continue within their own insular outdated systems of single issue and YAABOO politics will in the long and hopefully short term lose them electoral support from all thinking and right minded voters.
    However this should not concern a modern secular Conservative and Ulster Unionist party. People like these Jekyll and Hyde personalities should go and find their true and real political homes elsewhere.

  • Big Maggie

    Rory

    …and there was me thinking that this was an innocent happy photograph of an inaugural meeting of a new Weight Watchers’ group

    You made me splutter into my coffee mug with this one! Fabulous. And I’m no lissom lass meself.

  • Carsonia

    Stoneyford – what a filthy working class shite hole,full of horrible little sectarian Prole thugs.

  • commonsense

    “Harbinson’s Pride of the Village flute band have applied to march on five evenings in the month of September.”

    But the Parades Commission has placed such a heavy restriction on the parade that it is as close as it can come to being banned. Only allowed to march 100 metres, no music allowed, not allowed through the village and it all has been restructed to 15 mins.

  • PaddyReilly

    Stoneyford – what a filthy working class shite hole,full of horrible little sectarian Prole thugs.

    No it isn’t. It’s a nice wee town, that plenty of upwardly mobile people from West Belfast would like to move to. Unfortunately certain elements don’t like this.

  • gareth mccord

    why are people surprised at this should we not be more concerned about what mark “british agent” harbinson gets away with when involved in guns and intimidation?? we should concentate on why any democratic politician would allign themselves to a paid british agent or does that reason answer my question!!

  • Seimi

    Well said gareth.
    BTW, what are holding proudly aloft in the photo? Anybody know? Is it the election poster they subsequently burned of Paul Butler?
    LOL – the code word is ‘friends’. How apt!

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Chris,
    A quote from our First Minister, Mr Robinson, on his talks with the leaderships of the UDA and the UVF:

    [i]”All participants in these discussions acknowledged that the priority is to strengthen political stability, create economic and social prosperity and [b]improve the wellbeing of the unionist and loyalist community”[/b] (my emphasis).[/i]

    It’s still [i]their[/i] wee country after all. So much for an inclusive, democratic, modern Northern Ireland. It seems that the rest of us are still interlopers. They have learned nothing.

  • cynic

    Absolutely right….totally disgraceful.

    Why this lot don’t seem to have blown up a fish shop or shot anyone between them ……so why do they think they should qualify for the attentions of a politician or for a Council grant. Something should be done about it!!!!

    But actually, you know, I do think it’s disgraceful. But then I also think that many of the other exercises in speeches, coat-trailing, commemorations, roadside memorials, graveside orations, banners, coffin carryings, fake ‘outreach’ efforts, etc, etc, etc are also all disgraceful.

    I would like to see them all stopped but it ain’t going to happen. There are too many votes in it and a lack of political leadership on all sides. To stop it there would have to be a desire to change and a real sense of shame about the past … and we are nowhere near that yet.

  • cynic

    Oh do grow up Damien and go and pick nits somewhere else.

    At least its an effort to bring them into the political process and out of the violence business.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    cynic,
    I make a very valid point. He’s the First Minister of all the people of NI and should act and speak in a way that reflects that. Pointing out an example of such a sectarian attitude from our First Minister is not nit-picking at all.
    Nor am I criticising him for meeting with the UVF or the UDA in order to have them disarm and disband. I would criticise him, though, for waiting so long to do it.

  • POL

    #

    Oh do grow up Damien and go and pick nits somewhere else.

    At least its an effort to bring them into the political process and out of the violence business.
    Posted by cynic on Sep 06, 2008 @ 12:20 PM

    Is it?

  • gareth mccord

    cynic maybe then u could tell the people of stoneyford that they r only imagining the threats and intimidation of agent harbinson and fellow friendly law abiding loyalists?
    or maybe cynic u could contact special branch and tell them to stop harbinsons payments as he is no longer involved in ciminality??
    cynic why should anyone help those who have destroyed this country?? Surely those who have murdered dealt drugs and bleed their communities dry should be left in the gutter and the honest hard working decent people should not have to deal with the scum who destroyed many lives!!

  • cynic

    Gareth

    “Surely those who have murdered dealt drugs and bleed their communities dry should be left in the gutter and the honest hard working decent people should not have to deal with the scum who destroyed many lives!!”

    Agree completely in principle – but then there would be no peace process and no peace. The sad reality is that many of those people are in power now. That was part of the peace settlement.

    When wars end those involved don’t vanish and in civil wars they are often embedded in the communities they victimized. That is dreadful for the victims but there’s also a legitimate argument that to cement the peace you need to allow them some future stake in society, some way forward and that this is to everyones’ advantage.

    Now read my post and see what I actually said. I think its all disgraceful.

    Damien… what do you expect? If he came out from a meeting with disabled people or Chinese you would not expect him to say something about furthering the development of those groups? Its called politics.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Cynic:

    [i]Damien… what do you expect? If he came out from a meeting with disabled people or Chinese you would not expect him to say something about furthering the development of those groups? Its called politics. [/i]

    He hasn’t been fighting a running battle with the disabled or the Chinese for the last, however long you like, nor is he in joint administration with their representatives.

    His priority should be (as it should be for all those involved in party politics in NI) the well-being of all the people of NI, and that should be the message he puts out at every given opportunity. However, he fronts a sectarian party, which was in a meeting with sectarian paramilitaries and the message was uncompromisingly sectarian, i.e. looking out for ‘their own kind’ as a priority.

  • KEEP IT REAL

    IN LIGHT OF THE PARADES RULING IT IS NOW FIRMLY WITH THE PSNI TO ACT IF THIS RULING IS NOT ADHERED TO THE PSNI MUST ARREST THESE PEOPLE AND NOT BURY THERE HEADS IN THE SAND.IN THE PAST IT SEEMS THE PSNI WOULD RATHER LET CATHOLICS LEAVE STONEYFORD THAN MEET THIS PROBLEM HEAD ON THAT WILL BE THE ONLY CURE TO THIS SICKESS THAT DARKENS STONEYFORD

  • council officer

    Re Raven’s comments.
    Bollocks.

    Council officials are not duty bound to help public with applications – think it through you tube….otherwise you might as well just call up and make any request you like.

    What took place is totally out of order and should be challenged in courts the rejection of funding was correct but that does not excuse the actions of officials.

    Perhaps what it does illustrate is how lacking in capacity for independent thought or action the officals are and it illustrates the just following orders line – a defence that has no place in law. More worryingly if the officials see fit to do this specific action perhaps they might go on record and state how many times they have filled in forms in support of SF and twinbrook etc representatives. A city for every one – not fucking likely.

    the way to get promoted in lisburn (and similar councils) is to support certain councillors rather than do your job to the letter.

  • keep it real

    pride of the village have had their first march tuesday the 9th.guess what they did not stand by the ruling and the police not for the first time stood and watched them march in a field between the meadows and the beeches playing their so called music?yet this group can apply for community funds get the mayor to help while they intimadate and clearly break the law.surely davy moore should start acting instead of talking after all he is the one in charge of the psni lisburn for stoneyford.as regarding the parades surely they must state this group have broken the law and recommend arrests unlikely but we will see