Sinn Fein have voiced their opposition to a proposal that could see Causeway Council shell out close to £4,000 on new robes for councillors to wear.
At a corporate policy and resources committee meeting on Tuesday, members were given options regarding the supply of civic robes.
Causeway Council “inherited” robes from three of the four legacy councils - Limavady, Ballymoney and Coleraine.
Based on the assumption the Mayor and Deputy Mayor robes belonging to the former Limavady and Ballymoney Councils remain fit for purpose, and that robes would only be required for the remaining 10 Aldermen and 28 councillors, members were given costs for options, ranging from £26,000, or avail of existing stock and commission new robes costing £13,700.
The Council recommendation was to avail of existing stock of black robes and have an addiitonal 20 black robes commissioned, with the lowest quote at £3,725.
SDLP councillor, Orla Beattie, said while “it’s nice for the mayor and deputy mayor to wear the robes”, it is usually just once a year, that it may not be necessary to have a robe for all 40 councillors as not all councillors may want to wear a robe.
Colr. Beattie said councillors can dress smartly without spending almost £4,000, and it seemed “a bit indulgent at the moment”.
Sinn Fein Colr. Brenda Chivers said the wearing of civic robes was “outdated and a waste of ratepayers’ money”. She said her colleagues on Council would not support any recommendation, especially for something used once a year.
Mayor, DUP Colr. Michelle Knight-McQuillan, was happy with the recommendation but asked if it was possible to use fur from old robes to use on replacement robes to save money.
SDLP Colr. Maura Hickey said it would be more prudent to ask which councillors would actually wear a robe.
UUP Colr Darryl Wilson said wearing the robes is “a great British tradition”, but said they needed to be a “careful steward of ratepayers’ money”. He agreed it might be best to get a feeling of how many of the 40 councillors would wear a robe.
It was agreed more information would be sought from councillors and brought back to Council, as well as using fur from existing robes needed for replacement robes.