Indepedent Councillor for The Moor, Gary Donnelly, complained of the tenor of matters being discussed during chairperson’s business at local council meetings after separate controversies over a Christmas marketing campaign and the hanging of republican name tags on a Christmas tree were raised this week.
Colr. Donnelly, speaking during a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s (DC&SDC) Business & Culture Committee, referred to a number of “serious incidents in the city” over recent weeks that had not been raised by councillors.
These, he said, included an attack on a sitting “councillor by someone with a knife”, an attempt “in the Waterside to kill a man”, and the “horrific brutal murder” in the Bogside the weekend before last.
Colr. Donnelly said the Council was in danger of giving the impression that the Council was more interested in Christmas adverts and Christmas trees than these matters.
Colr. Donnelly was speaking after recent controversy around the Council’s ‘Have Yourself a Derry Little Christmas’ advertisement and the negative response it provoked from some unionist councillors was raised by the Committee Chair, Colr. Patricia Logue.
Ulster Unionist Party Alderman, Derek Hussey, then raised concerns about the placement of names of republican prisoners on a Council Christmas tree in Strabane.
Ald. Hussey claimed council officers charged with removing the name tags had been threatened and said this had been a “worrying” development that deserved the Council’s condemnation.
Following Colr. Donnelly’s intervention, Colr. Logue, who had raised the negative coverage of the Christmas advertisement, said she agreed with him about the seriousness of the three issues he had raised.
The B&C Committee chair explained that dicsussion of the Christmas advert and Christmas tree had been admitted during chairperson’s business because they directly related to Council buiness.