Belfast Telegraph

Limavady left in limbo: Emblems row 'holding up crucial council business'

By Brendan McDaid

Key decisions in a borough council are being frustrated due to a stalemate in a row over flags, it has been claimed.

Business at Limavady Borough Council has been at a standstill for three months.

Issues due to be voted on at this week's meeting have now had to be put back after TUV councillor Boyd Douglas again produced a unionist emblem.

After bitter rows between councillors, Sinn Fein mayor Sean McGlinchey suspended Tuesday night's meeting when Mr Douglas refused to adhere to a 'no flags' policy and remove his party emblem, which features a Union flag.

Among the issues tabled for the meeting was the putting of an internal council audit out to tender.

The 2012-2015 corporate plan for the borough was also due to be discussed.

Other issues down for decision included a Planning Service committee meeting review, the Equality Commission's annual progress report, and Translink network changes.

The council was also to discuss consultations on district nursing services and high hedges legislation, as well as the implementation of Limavady's Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

But former mayor, SDLP councillor Michael Coyle, said it was disgraceful that the council was not able to carry on with the work it was elected to do.

He warned that the stalemate could well have implications for striking the rate next year.

The former mayor said: "There was a real mixture of items we needed to look at on practical, day-to-day issues.

"None of that was discussed and I will be very surprised if any of it gets discussed on Tuesday - I am very pessimistic about that."

But Mr Douglas refused to rule out further action and accused the mayor of "overreacting" to his protests.

He said the mayor should now consider standing down.

But Mr McGlinchey claimed the TUV's man's ability to represent the borough was being questioned by many.

Mr Douglas said he did not believe the issue was affecting council business to any great extent.

But Mr McGlinchey accused Mr Douglas of deliberately undermining the council by bringing flags and emblems into the council chamber.

"There is important business to be carried out and Boyd Douglas's antics has again interfered with the need of the council to meet."

The council is set to reconvene on Tuesday.

Background

The row in Limavady broke out in June after a unionist councillor produced a Union flag in protest at the IRA past of the Sinn Fein mayor.

Sean McGlinchey was part of a gang responsible for a bombing in Coleraine in the 1970s which killed six people.

As part of a campaign to force him to stand down, the same unionist councillor has produced flags or other emblems at every meeting since.

The impasse has led to important council business being put on hold.

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