The Lord Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the ABC Council are involved in a public war of words over the wearing of council robes.
Lord Mayor Darryn Causby has accused Sinn Fein Fein Deputy Mayor Catherine Seeley of “simply hammering all things British rather than being worried about so-called expense”.
Ms Seeley has stated that robes are “a waste of money”, with her party refusing to wear them. Sinn Fein and the SDLP also do not accept the post of alderman.
The Mayor countered that the ABC (Armagh, Banbridge Craigavon) already has 25 red robes from Craigavon Borough Council, including six aldermen’s robes and one for the Mayor.
He added, “There are 41 councillors, and when you take out the nationalists and republicans, that leaves just 27 who would wear them at important civic occasions like Remembrance Day and the annual meetings.
“There are 10 aldermen in the new council, and the bottom line is that just four aldermen’s are needed – that would cost a maximum £4,000 and a minimum £1,000 according to quotes we have received.
“The post of Alderman is, of course, British and it is clear that Sinn Fein’s policies are to remove all things British from the local councils and the Assembly.
“Councillor Seeley wears the Deputy Mayor’s Chain and that, too, has British connotations. I am frankly deeply disappointed at this division within the council.”
He added that the Craigavon robes have formerly belonged to Lurgan, “and you can’t argue about too much expense.
“They have been in circulation for about 60 years, and it’s a pittance.”
Mr Causby also stated that the tradition by neighbouring Newry, Mourne and Down Council to have bilingual street signs in English and Irish - “costing tens of thousands of pounds” – reinforced what he termed the hypocrisy of nationalist councillors.
Mr Causby’s fellow DUP Councillor Phil Moutray also slammed Ms Seeley.
Pointing to how Ms Seeley declined to lay a wreath at Remembrance Sunday last year in Lurgan, he claimed the row over robes was not about expense.
“At the end of the day, Sinn Féin’s refusal to wear ceremonial robes is an attempt to try and neutralise councils across Northern Ireland in their effort to corrode unionist culture and heritage,” he said.
“It is vital that Sinn Féin be challenged and that they not be allowed to deceive the public as Seeley is trying to do currently.”