The six Sinn Fein members of a leading borough council last night boycotted the mayor’s installation dinner, claiming: “It’s not a cause for celebration.”
And they added they would not support Craigavon’s bid to be the administrative centre of the new super council in 2011 when the borough will merge with neighbouring Banbridge and Armagh.
The Sinn Fein group leader, Councillor Mairead O’Dowd — sister-in-law of MLA John O’Dowd — issued a statement prior to UUP Mayor Meta Crozier’s formal |dinner that they would not be attending “because of Craigavon’s failure to recognise our mandate” by granting them the post of mayor or deputy. Sinn Fein proposed Mrs O’Dowd as mayor back in June, but she failed to make it.
“We’re staying away because there is nothing to celebrate,” said Mrs O’Dowd.
“Sinn Fein has attempted to bring equality to the appointment of mayor and deputy, only to be met by a blunt refusal by the unionist group of the council.”
The records show that, of the 36 Craigavon mayors since the council’s inception in 1973, only three have been non-unionists — two SDLP and one Independent.
The first 20 were UUP until that party ceased to be the biggest in the council, and three UUP councillors held the top post |during three separate terms.
Mrs O’Dowd recalled that, “because of this inequality”, Sinn Fein refused to back Craigavon’s bid for city status in 2002, and they will do the same in 2011 when the headquarters of the new super council will be determined.
“Geographically, Craigavon is ideally suited,” she said. “But we could not support the bid of a council which practises apartheid.”
A spokesperson at Craigavon Civic Centre said the mayor would not be commenting.