Row over Euros kicks off among councillors

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis and Josh Magennis
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis and Josh Magennis

A row broke out among local councillors after the DUP proposed congratulating Northern Ireland for their success in qualifying for the European Championships.

The DUP motion, proposed by Cllrs Phil Moutray and Paul Greenfield, congratulated NI on reaching France and called on the council to investigate the best way to celebrate with events to include players and staff, particularly those from the borough.

However, the divisions in the ABC Council were exposed when SDLP Councillor Joe Nelson, whose nephew Marc Wilson from Aghagallon is part of the Republic of Ireland squad, proposed an amendment that both teams be congratulated.

The DUP, along with several Ulster Unionist councillors, refused to support Mr Nelson’s amendment.

The issue went to a vote and the amendment was carried by one vote.

Mr Moutray accused the SDLP and Sinn Fein of “political posturing”.

“I was surprised to see numerous Ulster Unionist councillors supporting this amendment. It seeks to belittle what the national football team have achieved,” he said.

“I have no issue in congratulating the Republic of Ireland, but no more than I would congratulate England or Wales.

“The SDLP and Sinn Fein have never, to my knowledge, asked in any of the three legacy councils that we congratulate the Republic of Ireland on qualifying for major tournaments.

“I feel that this amendment was an attempt to hijack and demean my original motion. Comparing the achievements and adding this amendment was, in my opinion, politicising something that should not be politicised.”

Mr Nelson strongly criticised the DUP.

He said, “DUP members voted against the motion which in fact meant that they were prepared to forego the celebrations for the NI team because the RoI team were to be included.

“A classic example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. This was no surprise given the track record of the DUP group in the legacy Craigavon council.”