A DUP motion designed to prohibit any future use of council facilities for events which “glorify terrorists” will be put before elected members tonight (Tuesday).
The notice of motion, to be tabled by Alderman Freda Donnelly and seconded by councillor Gareth Wilson on behalf of their party, comes in the wake of criticism centred on a community festival in Armagh earlier this month.
Alderman Donnelly was scathing in her criticism of the organisers who named a ladies’ GAA tournament – as part of the West Armagh Festival – after convicted IRA member Mairead Farrell.
Councillor Donnelly said: “I was certainly shocked when I learned that since being raised as an issue in the legacy Armagh City & District Council as far back as 2013, the practice of competitions associated with the festival having trophies named after IRA terrorists was continuing.
“Given this event was held on council property and the trophies were being competed for by children, there are very serious questions which need to be asked of the organisers of this event.”
And tonight, the DUP will seek to make sure no further events “with such associations” are to be hosted on Council property.
The motion reads: “That this council unreservedly condemns the deliberate association of individuals involved in terrorism with events staged on council property and condemns the actions of the West Armagh Festival in permitting the naming of trophies which were to be competed for by children, after IRA terrorists.
“Furthermore, we propose this council immediately reviews West Armagh Consortium’s use of Council facilities for the glorification of terrorism and immediately acts to review the terms of the lease it holds with the Council.
“We further propose this council acts immediately to prevent any group or organisation that has an association with terrorism, or seeks through an event, to have promote an association of terrorism, from using any Council facility or applying for grant aid from this Council.”
Councillor Wilson stated: “We are hopeful that this motion will receive the support of the Council as there can be no room in society for the glorification of terrorism and indeed no room for such associations with our local Borough Council.
“This motion aims to lay down a strict regulation that no such events will be staged in the future on council property and that the reasons why this situation arose in Armagh are fully investigated and dealt with.”
Stephen Fields, Secretary of the West Armagh Consortium, which organised the event, told Armagh I also speaking earlier this month said he was surprised at the comments.
“The West Armagh Community Festival has been in operation for over 20 years and in that time has been officially opened by Mayors and Lord Mayors from all parties within Armagh City and District Council,” explained Mr Fields.
Adding: “The events that appear to be causing upset to members of the unionist parties have been part and parcel of the festival since its early days.
“So why are unionist politicians up in arms now, considering that they participated in its official opening over the years and witnessed some of the events in question?”