SINN Féin Lisburn City Councillor Angela Nelson has called on the SDLP Mayor of the city, Brian Heading, to come clean about his decision to cancel the annual Civic Dinner that was due to be held tomorrow night (Saturday).
Councillor Heading cancelled the dinner via letter to invitees just eight days ago, citing the “current economic climate” as the reason for calling off one of the annual highlights of the Mayor’s calendar.
However, Councillor Nelson told the Andersonstown News she believed that this reason was “not good enough” as the budget for the dinner “is paid out of the civic fund and could not be used to help alleviate any of the financial stress suffered by people in this area”.
“Personally, I think that it’s down to the fact that Sinn Féin has not attended recent civic dinners due to the fact that we were not recognised as a party on the council and not given chairs, vice-chairs or mayorships,” she said. “This year at the Council AGM we were given two chairs of two committees as recognition so we said we would attend this dinner.”
Councillor Nelson said against that background the custom of the Lisburn Mayor proposing a toast to the Queen during the dinner was behind the cancellation.
“Having said that, it’s within his remit as a nationalist Mayor not to do that if he wished,” she added.
“But he may feel then that he might offend Protestants or the unionist councillors, causing an even bigger kick-up.”
She added that Councillor Heading had personally incurred the cost of printing cancellation letters, according to a Council representative.
A spokesperson for Lisburn City Council said there was “ no cost to the Council” in cancelling the civic dinner.
“The decision taken by the Mayor, Councillor Brian Heading, to cancel the Mayor’s Civic Dinner is because of the Mayor’s view on the current economic climate,” said the Council spokesperson.
“Any expenses incurred to date have been met personally by the Mayor.
“Lisburn City Council has no further comment to make.”