Mid Ulster District Council is set to discuss a deficit that exists within current local government legislation to provide full access to democracy in times of maternity and paternity leave for Councillors.
The motion is being brought to the June council meeting by Sinn Féin’s Ronan McGinley who has raised the issue with the Council’s Chief Executive.
Cllr McGinley said:
“If a Councillor intends to take maternity or paternity leave they face a tough decision, to give up their position on council or leave their constituents unrepresented. The legislation is complex, but it appears not to support Councillors and family life. Councillors who commit to public service are not treated as employees, therefore they are not covered by employment legislation. This has an extremely negative impact on individuals who are working hard to strike a balance between their professional and home life”.
“If a councillor is seeking to take maternity or paternity leave, they should be afforded the same rights as those in employment. A Councillor can take time out, but they are not allowed to be replaced if they intend to return to Council duties after the period of absence. This leaves the voice of all those who voted unheard and this is unacceptable”.
Cllr McGinley continued,
“We have an obligation to make public service available to everyone, therefore this situation needs to change quickly. That is why I am requesting that the Council recognises this deficit, and also sets up a meeting with the Minister of Communities to request a resolution”.
The council is due to meet on Thursday night where this will be discussed.
Sinn Féin’s group leader in Mid Ulster, Ronan McGinley, has contacted the Chair of the Mid Ulster District Council requesting a special meeting of the Council to discuss the impact of Brexit for local people and business.
The majority of voters in Mid Ulster voted to remain in the recent referendum, and the Sinn Féin council team believe there is disappointment and concern among Mid Ulster residents.
Cllr McGinley said:
“Support for remaining in Europe was shown, not only in Mid Ulster, but across the North. There is a blatant democratic deficit highlighted in this referendum, this part of the island is to be dragged out of Europe against the people’s wishes. The decision will have impact on the daily lives of our citizens, and the operation of our local business and farming industry. It is imperative that this deficit is challenged.
The outcome of the vote strengthens the case for a border poll here in Ireland, it’s time people have the opportunity to have their voice heard through a referendum on this issue.”
Cllr McGinley continued,
“I fear the agriculture industry, one of the most important industries on this island, one which holds great importance in Mid Ulster, now faces serious problems. I haven’t much confidence in the British government replacing the funding and subsidies received by Europe, this is going to be felt by our friends and neighbours. This will impact everyone and all sectors. I have asked the current Chair of the Council to hold a Special Meeting so that we can discuss the outcome and ensure Mid Ulster continues to move forward positively.”
Speaking about the current status of the European Union, Cllr McGinley was not completely complimentary,
“Although Sinn Féin supported the remain vote in this referendum, as a Party we have constantly highlighted the need for reform in the EU. There is a real need to reinstall trust. The institutions must take on board the growing concerns of voters.”
Sectarian graffiti has appeared along the Battery road, damaging public property and causing upset among local people.
Sectarian slogans have appeared along the arterial route to Cookstown on bus stops and the road itself, and residents have contacted a local councillor to highlight their concern and anger.
Sinn Féin’s Ronan McGinley has hit out at those who carried out the vandalism,
“Community relations around the Loughshore are generally good. To see this recent graffiti is extremely disappointing. It’s not acceptable at any level and I would ask those involved to catch themselves on. We are entering into a time of year where tensions can be high, it’s imperative that silly acts like this are stopped’.
The Sinn Féin councillor had asked council officials to step in and remove the graffiti, commenting on this Cllr McGinley said,
“Council resources, like everything else, are stretched. I’m disappointed that I have to ask our council officials to do this, but offensive and sectarian vandalism should not be tolerated. People should not be forced to look at this as they go about their business. I’m sure council will react quickly, but those responsible should know that their foolish behaviour is not only offensive, but wasting rate payers money and council officials time. They should grow up and engage in something positive.