Former First Citizen slams council’s decision to splash out on ‘mayoral jewels’

One of the potential pendant designs presented to members of the Corporate Services Committee.
One of the potential pendant designs presented to members of the Corporate Services Committee.

A former Mayor of Lisburn has slammed the council for agreeing to potentially spend thousands of pounds on commemorative medals for past Mayors.

The local authority’s Corporate Services Committee approved the purchase of ‘mayoral jewels’ for presentation to Mayors of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council in recognition of their service. But they also approved buying the commemorative medals for members of the council who served as Mayor of their respective legacy council, although those members will have to pay 50 per cent of the cost if they want one of the ‘sterling silver gilt jewels’.

A council spokesperson originally said the cost of each “ceremonial insignia” would be £427. However, it’s understood that figure is based on the purchase of at least 15 medals. If purchasing fewer medals the cost is considerably higher, ranging from around £1,100 per unit.

The council later stated that it would be purchasing “four medals plus the appropriate number for former Mayors”. However, the spokesperson confirmed that the total number to be purchased, and the cost per medal, is “unknown at present.”

Alderman Jim Dillon, who served as Mayor of Lisburn from 2000 to 2002, has criticised the spend, describing it as “a complete waste of money.”

“I think it’s an absolute nonsense. The question I asked is ‘Are we trying to turn the council into the Masonic Order?’ It’s a complete waste of money,” he said.

The Downshire West representative, who has been a councillor for 40 years, received a crystal bowl as a gift when he finished his term as Mayor. And he doesn’t believe that he and others who served as First Citizen in the past should get commemorative medals to wear at civic and ceremonial events.

“When the Mayor was stepping down they were traditionally given a gift up to the value of about £100 or £200, but I think this whole thing is a nonsense and we can’t stand over spending this sort of money on medals,” the UUP man added.