Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Counselling course defence shows UUP discord

IS there any issue that the Ulster Unionist Party will not fall out over? The revelation that councils will be using taxpayers' money to pay for "emotional resilience" courses (January 29) has provoked incredulity among ratepayers.

Those who argued against this expenditure included the former Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott who referred to the courses as "mumbo jumbo".

Whether or not this assessment of the merit, or otherwise, of the course is fair, it does reflect the commonly held view that taxpayers' money could be better spent in preparation for the transition from 26 councils to 11.

It was odd, therefore, to hear Belfast Ulster Unionist councillor and former lord mayor, Jim Rodgers, take to the airwaves to defend this expenditure.

Listening to councillor Rodgers detail the stress and trauma our local government officials will be forced to endure as they move from working for one council to another slightly larger one, my mind strayed to those who serve our country as nurses, soldiers, policemen or firemen.

By comparison with the jobs these people undertake, I am at a loss to understand how "stressed out" a local government clerk can really be.

Regardless of the whys and wherefores of this scheme, we have witnessed another sorry spectacle inside the UUP which has learned nothing from their sad history of division and bickering.

LORNA COOTE

Belfast

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