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09 Dec 2021

Sinn Féin member silenced after B Special event funding question

Chair John McAuley said he was a 'proud son of a B-man' before taking a vote to prohibit Cllr Bateson from speaking.

Sinn Féin member silenced after B Special event funding question

For the second time in a month, a local Sinn Féin councillor has been silenced on an item of discussion by way of a point of order.

Sinn Féin's Cllr Sean Bateson used a discussion on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Grant Funding Policy Review to raise a question on the funding of a NI centenary event held at the weekend.

The event, part-funded by the Council, featured a historical re-enactment of a B-Specials drill demonstration and checkpoint, described by a local SDLP MLA as 'divisive and crass'.

The organising committee of the event issued a statement to say no Council funding had been used to fund the demonstration.

Cllr Sean Bateson

Cllr Bateson asked officials at the Leisure and Development Committee to clarify no public money had been spent on it.

“I would like to speak on 2.0 on item 10 and specifically, the NI100 small grants fund,” said the representative for Bann.

“Can I ask the director for clarity on the awarding of this grant and in relation to the grossly inappropriate and deeply insensitive event at Coleraine Town Hall at the weekend?

“My community was disgusted at this event and the re-enactment featuring a military display of the B-Specials.

“The history of the B-Specials speaks for itself. It was effectively established as the paramilitary wing of the Orange state and was designed to subjugate nationalists and republicans.

“For nationalists and republicans, such an event yet again clearly illustrates that the centenary of partition is being used by certain quarters as a show of triumphalism.

“Can the director clarify and put on record if this grant went towards the funding and display of this event and the group that was involved in it?

“Can the director give me a breakdown of the total Council funding and what it went towards?”

Cllr John McAuley

Committee Chair, Cllr John McAuley, told Cllr Bateson his question was not related to the agenda item; the Grant Funding Policy Review.

“You are quite aware that this isn't even part of the agenda,” said the DUP representative.

“You did attempt to put in an AORB (Any Other Relevant Business) which you were too late for, and now you have decided to try and slip it in to make a few headlines with your republican agenda.

“I try not to rise to these sort of things, but it's a case of offended by everything and ashamed of nothing.

Cllr Bateson began to protest that it was in fact part of the agenda, but Cllr McAuley told him he would 'chair the meeting as I choose to chair it'.

“I'm the Chair, so I'll speak if I want to speak. As a proud son of a B-man, I will not be letting you try and take over this Committee tonight to whitewash history.

“I'll chair the meeting as I choose to chair it,” he added.

Cllr George Duddy

Cllr George Duddy then called a point of order, stating that if Cllr Bateson continually interrupted the Chair, the Committee could vote on point of order 24.2; that the member not be heard on this item.

“When the Chair speaks during the debate, any member speaking at the time must stop and the meeting must be silent,” said the DUP councillor.

“I'm not sure that Cllr Bateson understands standing orders, but you have asked him on more than one occasion, which is your perogative, to cease speaking, and he has continued to interrupt.

“If Cllr Bateson continues, I will call point of order 24.2; for a member not to be heard any longer.”

“Go ahead Cllr Duddy, I think it shows your agenda,” replied Cllr Bateson.

The Committee then voted in favour of the point of order intervention, with nine voting for, two against and three abstentions.

It marks the second time in four weeks that a Sinn Féin councillor has been subject to point of order 24.2 and no longer permitted to speak on an item.

Cllr Duddy also called the point of order on Glens councillor Cara McShane at a previous meeting of the Leisure and Development Committee.

The incident arose after a fellow DUP councillor claimed Cllr McShane insinuated he was a 'fool'.

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