17 May 2022

Dispute over council NI centenary job

A full-time staff member is to be employed to deliver a series of events.

Dispute over council NI centenary job

A local councillor has slammed council plans to appoint a paid, full-time events organiser for a programme of events to mark 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland.

Former Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Sean Bateson, has criticised a decision taken by the council's Leisure and Development Committee to create the role.

“I made very clear that the partition of Ireland is absolutely nothing to celebrate and certainly won’t be by republican and nationalist ratepayers,” he told the County Derry Post.

“This state was designed to ensure an artificial majority of unionism and was based on inequality and discrimination.

“It resulted in years of conflict aided and abetted by the British establishment resulting in a dysfunctionality that still exists to this day. Its eventual ending will be its only reason for celebration.”

INCREDULOUS: Sean Bateson says the decision will erode rate payers' confidence in the council.

The role will be in place for the period covering October 2020 until March 2022, providing co-ordination, administration and project management support to the council's NI21 working group.

A proposed job advertisement states the successful applicant will use the centenary to celebrate the people of the Borough, build a shared understanding of collective history and recognise and build awareness of the 'significant anniversary'.

However, DUP leader on the Council, Limavady Councillor Aaron Callan, has welcomed the move to appoint a project officer.

“A working group has over the last number of months been preparing a list of projects and events for the area,” he said.

“This will include support for local community groups to deliver their own projects and events.

“The working group have agreed four themes for the Centenary year; celebrating the 100th anniversary of Northern Ireland. They are Heritage and Culture, Great Northern Ireland Minds and Innovation, Sport & Wellbeing and Community Development and Food, Drink and Entertainment.

DUP councillor Aaron Callan.

“Under these four main themes, we will be developing a number of existing events and projects to celebrate the centenary.

“We welcome, and hope the entire community in Causeway Coast and Glens Borough will engage in these themes and the programme that will be unveil in the coming months,” he concluded.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has experienced financial difficulties in recent times, and Cllr Bateson feels the decision to fund the co-ordinator's position will erode rate payers' confidence.

“It is incredulous that unionist councillors have voted to give the green light for a blank cheque while there are still unanswered questions relating to council's financial conduct.

"All this will only lead to a further lack of confidence for our ratepayers.”

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