A row has erupted on Belfast council following the erection of party banners by Sinn Fein at several parks across the city.
Alliance Councillor Michael Long expressed his disappointed at the appearance of the banners, and said the council run parks were not appropriate places for party political material to be displayed.
The banners appeared at Cherryvale and the Waterworks in the city, and the Alliance group Leader on the council called for their removal.
“Council parks are shared spaces where no party should have any banners or posters displayed at any time, which Sinn Fein are fully aware of,” said Cllr Long.
“They have previously been vocal on their opposition to the erection of banners by loyalist groups on main routes into the city last year, and rightly so. They cannot have it both ways when it comes to their own banners.
“Whilst I appreciate there is an attempt to help point people in the direction of help during this crisis, every party has appropriate methods to be able to do this, from their party website to social media channels, as well as other means, without having to resort to this.
“I am calling on Sinn Fein to remove these banners and if not, the council needs to, to ensure our parks remain spaces welcoming to all. It is disappointing Sinn Fein decided to attempt to use this crisis to ignore that. Parties would be much better refocusing efforts on tackling this horrendous situation together.”
Sinn Fein hit back saying the banners have been placed to give the vulnerable in the community a point of contact for help.
“Over the course of the last two weeks, Sinn Fein activists and others have been on the ground assisting the most vulnerable within local communities,” a party spokesperson said.
“These activists are to be commended for their work, they have prioritised the health and well-being of the vulnerable over their own personal health.
“People are also concerned about Covid 19 and are seeking help on a variety of issues.
“Sinn Fein activists erected banners to advertise contact details for local constituency offices and community organisations, signposting people to where they could get help.
“This is a time for social solidarity, not cheap attempts at petty political point scoring.
“Those in the Alliance Party who have called for the removal of these posters in the middle of a health pandemic need to seriously have a rethink of their priorities.”