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Councillors clash over naming of 11 new super councils

By Rebecca Black

What's in a name? Rows that vary from bitter to jovial, as our host of new super councils have discovered.

As the new local government bodies prepare to take over the reins next April, the question of what each of the 11 should call themselves has proved a hot potato.

One of the most bitter rows has been in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon body.

Nationalist and republican councillors have flatly refused to support the inclusion of Craigavon in the new name, and one of the unionist suggestions – the Orange County – at a workshop has been met with derision.

Under the rules for the new councils, names must include either all the major areas incorporated or be something completely new.

A suggestion of the Orchard County might appear to be a good compromise, but has rankled some of the Banbridge representatives who feel it excludes their area.

In Antrim and Newtownabbey there has been discussion about creating a name to reflect the fact the area stretches from Belfast Lough to Lough Neagh.

SDLP councillor Thomas Burns explained: "We would like the name Antrim in it somewhere, others have suggested that because we are between the two loughs – Belfast and Neagh – that we could connect it to that."

Even in North Down, where formal discussions over the name have not yet started, there has already been parochial tension after it was decided all meetings of the full council be held in Bangor, instead of rotating between Newtownards and Bangor as they had been.

Independent Newtownards councillor Jimmy Menagh said there was much fury among the Ards representatives about that decision.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that he was adamant the new council should be Greater Ards.

The patron saint of Ireland seems to be a safe bet for the new name of Newry, Mourne and Down with St Patrick's links to all three areas.

In Mid and East Antrim, incorporating the old boroughs of Ballymena and Larne, the councillors have thrown it open to the public, appealing through local newspapers and social media for ideas.

Ulster Unionist councillor Stephen Nicholl said Mid and East Antrim is "not the most marketable term".

"Slemish and Antrim Coast is one of the names coming through from that process, but we don't know if all parts will be able to buy into that," he said, adding that the process is open for the public to submit ideas until the end of October.

In the picturesquely named Causeway Coast and Glens council there has been no discussion yet. However, it is understood that several councillors favour dropping the Glens to name it simply Causeway Coast.

Fermanagh and Omagh as well as Mid Ulster are the only councils which seem content to stick with the name they already have.

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