ULSTER Unionists in Craigavon Borough Council have accused DUP councillors of “bullying tactics” over the make-up of the steering group recently set up to oversee the development of Portadown People’s Park - a £7m project that will be completed within three years and is being largely financed by Europe.
The row follows UUP support for the group to be all-party, one each from UUP, DUP, SDLP, SF and Alliance. They voted against a DUP motion that Portadown councillors should constitute the steering group, which would have meant four DUP, one UUP and two SF. The original DUP motion was defeated, as was a rescinding motion later tabled by the party.
This led to a scathing statement from DUP - carried in last week’s Portadown Times - alleging that the Ulster Unionists “pedalled an anti-unionist agenda in Craigavon Borough Council”.
UUP have released an angry reply, with Councillors Kenneth Twyble and Ronnie Harkness the main signatures. It stated - “The DUP rescinding motion was an attempt to stifle democracy and to bully the members to set aside a democratic decision taken only a short time ago. On three recent occasions the DUP have been defeated on a cross-party vote. Each time they threw the toys out of the pram and issued statements to the press, lambasting the other parties on council, especially the Ulster Unionists.
“Their rescinding motion on the Portadown park issue is tantamount to a form of civil disobedience as advocated recently by a DUP Minister. They want a DUP controlled council in Craigavon, not a democratic one, and here they are flexing their muscles once again.
“On the previous occasion, the Portadown park issue was discussed, the DUP walked away from the preliminary discussions that were taking place in 2008 - they refused to participate. Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists, Portadown 2000 members, community representatives and council officers embarked on a series of meetings which provided an initial impetus to securing the grant towards making Portadown park a shared space.
“Now that a multi-million pounds grant is in the offing, the DUP, with this rescinding motion, is blatantly attempting to take overall control of the project. It is interesting to note that their two double-jobbing MLAs, Aldermen Stephen Moutray and Sydney Anderson were at Stormont and failed to turn up to support their colleagues.
“The motion failed to attract any support from any other party and only received six votes. The council’s custom and practice of having one member from each political party on working groups is obviously the preferred option.”