16 June 2012     


When the Good Friday Agreement was signed it was said, quite rightly, that it was the only show in town.
     It would be foolish to say that the curse of sectarianism has been eliminated or that all other problems have been solved. Unfortunately the question of power-sharing has cropped up in the shape of Craigavon and Antrim Borough Councils, and whilst Ballymena has elected its first SDLP mayor and Omagh its first DUP chairman, Craigavon and Antrim seem to be playing the old-style politics in their relationship with Sinn Féin.
     The Sinn Féin candidate at Craigavon’s mayoral election received 11 votes, with the DUP receiving 10 and the UUP candidate getting 3. In an obvious case of sharp practice, the council decided on a run-off as opposed to the Sinn Féin suggestion of using the d’Hondt system, which is used in many other councils, including Belfast and the Stormont Assembly.
     The suggestion was rejected, with the council chief executive citing instances where a run-off had been used in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
     DUP councillor Woolsey Smith gave the game away when he stated that they would not be prepared to accept power-sharing with Sinn Féin until they proved they were a “democratic party”—a view obviously not shared by his party leader.
     Antrim elects its mayor this week, and reports suggest it will go to the DUP, with the possibility of an SDLP deputy.
     However, an Ulster Unionist Party councillor has stated that “pigs will fly before Antrim allows a Sinn Féin mayor.” He even accepted that “yes, it’s totally undemocratic, but I will never promote Sinn Féin.”
     Old-style politics, old-style thinking, and certainly not the only show in town.

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