Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Deirdre Hargey selected to lead Belfast super council

By Rebecca Black

Sinn Fein's Deirdre Hargey has been selected by her party as presiding councillor of new Belfast super council at its first meeting.

Controversial DUP councillor Ruth Patterson, who faced court last year over comments she made on Facebook, was selected by her party as vice presiding councillor.

The new councils select their top positions based on party strengths using the d'Hondt formula. Representatives from each of the parties were selected for committees before the meeting.

Sinn Fein councillor Stephen Magennis, who represents the Colin ward which includes Twinbrook and Poleglass, told the council he was pleased by the new boundaries, claiming that his area had suffered "years of neglect" as part of Lisburn City Council.

People Before Profit councillor Gerry Carroll queried the additional allowances of up to £5,000 for representatives holding positions such as party group leader, asking if it was justifiable in a time of recession.

He also proposed, seconded by Green Party councillor Ross Brown, that the word inclusivity be added to the list of guiding principles that the council signed up to.

The council agreed to an amendment, put forward by Sinn's Jim McVeigh, that inclusivity be added to its core values.

Ms Hargey told the meeting last night that two of the main tasks the shadow council would face before taking over at the end of next March would be to set the rates and to decide the name of the council.

Concerns were expressed by the DUP and UUP to strike a low rate, because areas that have come into the new council from Castlereagh and Lisburn were used to a lower rates bill.

Meanwhile, at the first meeting of the new Derry and Strabane council, dissident republican Gary Donnelly took his seat for the first time.

Within minutes there was a motion condemning the bombing of the Everglades Hotel in Derry 10 days ago and praising the work of the PSNI, moved by the DUP's Maurice Devenney.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein both said they had no problem with the motion, which was also backed by the UUP.

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