Belfast Telegraph

Belfast councillors kept in dark over bonfire report

By Suzanne Breen

Belfast City Hall bosses have been accused of discriminating against independent councillors and those from smaller parties by refusing to show them a report on the council's management of bonfires.

Independent councillor Declan Boyle said it was "disgraceful" that only group leaders from the six largest parties had been given the document on which councillors will vote tomorrow.

People Before Profit councillor Matt Collins also slammed City Hall bosses' treatment of the seven councillors who are independents or who are members of small parties. A council spokeswoman declined to comment.

Former Northern Ireland Ombudsman Tom Frawley was appointed to investigate the council's controversial storage of bonfire material last summer. Two special council meetings have been called tomorrow to vote on his report.

Mr Boyle said: "Seven out of 60 representatives, 12% of councillors, have been denied access to this report.

"It is ironic that there is so little transparency and openness around the findings of an investigation which was ordered because of a lack of transparency and openness.

"One of the most controversial bonfires is in Sandy Row in my Botanic ward yet council officials are keeping me in the dark about what's in the document. We are being asked to discuss and vote on a report we will only have sight of just before the meetings.

"It's a very peculiar way of doing business. The council is treating those who elected us with contempt."

The report was given to Sinn Fein, DUP, UUP, Alliance, SDLP and PUP group leaders last week.

UUP group leader David Browne said the councillors who had complained were justified.

"They are being treated very unfairly," he said.

West Belfast councillor Mr Collins said: "This is typical of the lack of transparency in City Hall of which the bonfire issue is the most glaring example."

Belfast Telegraph

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