Bradshaw claims that a challenge to her position is sectarianism

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In her letter of March 8 Paula Bradshaw singularly failed to address any of the specific points I raised in respect of the Alliance Party’s decision to vote with Sinn Fein and increase the level of the District Rate in Belfast.

Instead Ms Bradshaw saw fit to indulge in grotesque personal abuse and deliberate mis-representation.

As is standard practice for the smug and self satisfied Alliance Party, Ms Bradshaw’s first line of defence was to claim that those who challenged her position were motivated by sectarianism.

To the best of my knowledge neither the religion nor the political affiliation of a householder or businessman has any bearing on their rates bill.

Perhaps Ms Bradshaw knows something that is hidden from us mere mortals. It is also worth noting that the Ulster Unionist position was supported by members of the SDLP and People Before Profit, a had left socialist part from west Belfast. On the other hand not one single unionist voted with Alliance and Sinn Fein.

Over the five years of my council term an average family in Belfast will pay a rates bill of £5,000, the simple fact remains that Alliance believes that family should pay more.

Indeed Alliance Party councillors made it clear that they would have supported an increase in the district rate 25% above that which was finally forced through.

This approach stands in stark contrast to the unionist controlled council of Antrim and Newtownaddey, of which Ms Bradshaw is a resident. There ratepayers will enjoy a 0.5% decrease in their rates bill.

In her letter Ms Bradshaw erroneously claimed that I conflated support for an Islamic Cultural Centre with support for Islamic State. I fear that in this instance Ms Bradshaw has allowed her prejudice to cloud her judgement.

In June 2015 Ms Bradshaw proposed a motion in support of an Islamic Cultural Centre in Belfast. I spoke in favour of the motion and proposed an amendment which Ms Bradshaw accepted. That amendment read as follows:

“This Council notes and commends the responsible role that both the Belfast Islamic Centre and the Northern Ireland Muslim Family Association have played in promoting and assisting integration.”

On the other hand at a special council meeting called by Sinn Fein last November, all but one Alliance councillor, Cllr Howard, voted in favour of the Sinn Fein motion condemning British air strikes against Islamic State.

Perhaps the true ‘nasty party’ in British politics is the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Graham Craig, Ulster Unionist Councillor, Belfast