The ALLIANCE and TUV have clashed over a proposal to withdraw local authority funding for sports clubs ‘with political aims’.
At a recent meeting of the Ards and North Down Council, elected officials heard a motion to withdraw funding to any sports organization ‘with political objectives or named references to terrorism in their constitution, club names, stadiums or competitions.
The motion, from TUV councilor Stephen Cooper and Independent Unionist councilors Tom Smith and Wesley Irvine, also called for a report from council officers outlining the council’s specific policy on the matter.
Alliance attempted to prevent the filing of the motion for legal advice. This was overruled by the council’s chief executive, Stephen Reid, who said the motion met the council’s debate criteria and could be tabled in committee next month.
Alliance Alderman Alan McDowell tried to obstruct the motion by lifting a standing order that proposals must be ‘clear and meaningful, otherwise (they) must be rejected until resubmitted in plain language “.
He urged the chief executive to seek legal advice on the proposal as he “believes it may be illegal”.
He added: ‘The motion is not clear what it refers to, and it is not clear what action needs to be taken.
“He asks for a report relating to the specific policy of the relevant council – I was unaware that this council had a policy of discriminating against people with a different political, religious or sporting preference.”
Managing Director Stephen Reid said: “In terms of clarity, I am satisfied that the generality of the management is sufficiently clear. It is quite common for notices of motion to be presented in committee, and it is at the time of presentation in committee that clarity and full meaning are heard. »
The Alliance amendment fell with 24 votes against and 12 for.
Independent Councilor Tom Smith said: ‘You have to remember a few months ago that some Orange Lodges were refused funding by this council because they were seen as political organisations. So I don’t think Alliance can get involved.
“There is no mention of the GAA anywhere in this proposal. Perhaps Alderman McDowell can tell us why he immediately brings up the GAA on this.
Following the meeting, TUV adviser Stephen Cooper claimed the Alliance Amendment was a “blatant attempt to try to usurp any attempt to tackle the scourge of bigotry in our communities, and worse still, sports”.
He added: “The irony of a party like Alliance, which claims to be a cross-community party, in opposing this motion which seeks to remove any sectarian baggage from the sports arena, is diabolical but hardly surprising.”
The motion will be heard at the Corporate Committee of the Board on Tuesday, September 13.