UDR coffee morning barred from centre

Sydney Anderson and Stephen Moutray.
Sydney Anderson and Stephen Moutray.

Two Upper Bann MLAs are furious that the Killicomaine Jubilee Centre was out-of-bounds for a coffee morning they had planned in aid of the UDR Legacy Project.

The centre was booked by a Killicomaine resident on behalf of Sydney Anderson and Stephen Moutray.

But when the new ABC Council discovered they were behind the charity event, the booking was turned down.

Instead, the event was transferred to another council property – Portadown Town Hall - where it raised £500.

All the proceeds were in aid of the UDR Legacy Project which is seeking to advance knowledge and understanding of the vital work the Ulster Defence Regiment carried out during the Troubles.

In a statement afterwards, the two men said, “We didn’t get much notice and this project is dear to the hearts of the Killicomaine people who were looking forward to it. In the event, they supported us well at the Town Hall, but we can’t for the life of us, understand why one council property is allowed and another one isn’t.

A council spokesperson said, “Council policy is that it does not accept bookings for community centres from political parties or elected members. The community centre was provisionally booked in the diary by a member of the public.

“Officers then became aware of hard copy invitations to the event in the name of two MLAs. The position was explained and subsequently an alternative venue was offered and accepted.”

Mr Anderson wants a full explanation. He said, “There was nothing political about the coffee morning in support of a regiment that held the front line when Northern Ireland was under pressure during the Troubles.

“All the proceeds were in aid of the UDR Legacy Project which is seeking to advance knowledge and understanding of the vital work of the regiment during very dangerous times.

“We planned the event, not as two MLAs, but as citizens and ratepayers of the borough. We are extremely angry at this action by the council, and so, too, are the residents of Killicomaine.

“We are totally dissatisfied by the council response. There must be a change of policy and we demand a clear explanation why our request was turned down. “We are convinced that other forces were at work in scuppering the planned venue and want the full facts.”

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