Did Craigavon have legal grounds to cancel Duffy booking?

Regarding the cancelled meeting the other the night, Craigavon Borough Council stated, “Following legal advice, a further discussion with council officers and a representative of the family took place earlier today. As a consequence of that discussion the offer of accommodation was withdrawn. The meeting will no longer take place at North Lurgan Community Centre.”

Slugger has obtained a copy of the form that was used to book the community hall in Kilwilkie the other night… You can view a readable version here… And the conditions under which the hall can be hired… We’ve blanked out all personal details, but suffice to say it was booked in the name of one of Colin Duffy’s family, not an organisation…The only official council policy that is stated anywhere is on the first page – in relation to a no smoking policy. The second page sets out the regulations governing the use of town halls/community centres – again no mention of the grounds which the council says the meeting allegedly breached.

Also note that page 1 states that ” This booking is not confirmed until this form is completed, payment in advance is received, and official confirmation of this booking is received by the applicant/s by means of a receipt for monies paid”. You will also see from the form, which is the council’s own contractual form, the receipt number confirming the booking.

So we are into interesting territory here. DUP MLA Stephen Moutray, who is also DUP group leader on Craigavon Council, said: “Many within the borough understandably were outraged that supporters of Colin Duffy would be using council facilities to promote their twisted ideology.”

Hmmm… I’m by no means the first on Slugger to note the parallels with an incident down in Newry in which twelve Sinn Fein councillors and five SDLP colleagues were ruled against by a court for breaching equality legislation when barring the FAIR victims group from using council premises…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty