Sinn Fein has been accused of engaging in “cynical and divisive tactics” after challenging a council decision to reinstate an air show to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
Causeway Coast and Glens DUP councillor Aaron Callan had proposed a notice of motion for the return of the Portrush Air Show event next year, with a view that it could then be held every two years.
The motion was passed by 24 votes to 15.
However, Sinn Fein has now launched a challenge to the decision, citing concerns over how much it will cost ratepayers.
The air show was cancelled last year after funding was withdrawn as part of the council’s plan to slash a substantial £68.7m debt.
In February the council voted to bring in independent financial advisers to help set its rates.
Mr Callan yesterday insisted the republican party was ignoring the fact the event in previous years had contributed millions to the local economy.
“Sinn Fein have acknowledged this project is supported by a majority of councillors yet they continue to waste ratepayers’ money challenging every decision they don’t agree with,” he said.
“Whilst our tourism strategy is not yet complete, there is already acknowledgement of the need for a significant regional event.
“The air show previously has brought in £2.5m of economic benefit for the wider region and attracted 200,000 people the last time it was staged.”
He added: “People in Causeway Coast and Glens and right across Northern Ireland will once again see Sinn Fein attempting to drag down efforts promoting the north coast region.
“Rather than build a programme for the future, Sinn Fein are too busy looking over their shoulder at the most reactionary elements in our society.”
Fellow DUP councillor John McAuley said Sinn Fein had taken the stance because it is “simply not interested in anything which acknowledges the British and unionist tradition”.
“It is worth remembering that they have previously ‘called-in’ the decision to appoint a coordinator for the council’s centenary programme,” he said.
“So much for equality and respect.
“I am confident that the local community will see through these cynical and divisive tactics.”
Outlining her party’s decision to challenge the legality of the decision, Sinn Fein’s Leanne Peacock said that the air show had ended because of the “exorbitant cost and the impact it had on council finances”.
“Most people were of the opinion that it had run its course,” she added.
“The air show costs hundreds of thousands of pounds for just a few hours’ entertainment. There are many events and festivals across the council and many new ideas in communities for events that have only a fraction of the cost involved but provide equal, if not increased, entertainment and attraction for locals and tourists, as well as economic benefit.
“It seems, though, that unionist councillors, supported by Alliance, are oblivious to all that in their desire to bring back the air show.”