A BITTER war of words erupted at Craigavon Council when a DUP proposal on the People’s Park was defeated.
Council was debating who should sit on the steering group which will manage the £7.1m project to transform the park.
Sinn Fein’s Cllr Johnny McGibbon had proposed that one councillor from each political party should sit on the group.
However Alderman Stephen Moutray had proposed that all seven Portadown councillors should have an input, plus representatives from the Alliance and SDLP, who are not represented in Portadown. He described the project as “one of the largest and important projects the council will take on in its lifetime”.
Cllr Kenneth Twyble said it was custom and practice for one councillor from each party to sit on such large projects, such as happened at the Hub and the Ulster Unionists voted accordingly. With the SDLP abstaining, Mr McGibbon’s proposal saw 13 votes in favour, eight against and four abstentions.
Immediately Mr Moutray was on his feet lambasting Mr Twyble and the Ulster Unionists for ‘denying unionism a say in the matter’.
He said he was very disappointed adding that Mr Twyble had “all the guts of a jellied eel” and that he “should hang his head in shame”.
“He denied unionism a say tonight. It’s a total shame and disgrace,” said Alderman Moutray.
DUP Alderman Sydney Anderson said he was concerned about consultation with ‘wider groups’ who had an interest in the park. “I would fear they would not be able to feed into the process with that sort of looseness,” he said.
And he added that it was supposed to be a ‘shared space’ but he was not getting ‘positive vibes’ from Sinn Fein. “We should be in there representing. We have been denied this.”
Ulster Unionist Cllr Ronnie Harkness said he was “amazed at the breathtaking arrogance of the DUP” and reminded them that their party had refused to attend meetings of Portadown 2000. “We have seen a major U-turn from the DUP again,” he said.