Michael Long: Jeff Dudgeon displays his ignorance of how council works

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Having had his lack of knowledge on council procedures on the issue of calling special meetings thoroughly exposed both on the floor of the chamber and in my response, one would have thought that Councillor Jeff Dudgeon might have spent some time reading up on how the council works before writing another letter displaying his ignorance on a whole range of new council matters (‘I don’t dislike Alliance, I disagree with a party that preaches consensus yet rushes to back partisan SF policies,’ Aug 15).

I suppose his bizarre personal vendetta against Alliance has proven too hard to overcome as demonstrated in his first accusation that Alliance is to blame for violence around anti-internment bonfires.

I would instead suggest that those involved in the violence are responsible.

Firstly, he states unionist councillors do not have the power to end existing policy as they are in a minority. Of course, had he any knowledge of how the party group leaders’ forum works, he would know there are three unionist parties and three others on the forum, and so unionists can block decisions.

Secondly, he also states Alliance is blocking a memorial to victims of the Belfast Blitz. He knows this is not the case and, that as someone who had relatives who served the city during that time and whose father was born on the first night of the blitz, it is hardly likely to be the case.

He knows the decision on this and other memorials is to be discussed by party leaders and then go to committee and perhaps he should be asking other parties why they have continually delayed the matter being discussed when I have asked for it to be on the agenda, including as recently as last week.

Finally, he suggests we rush to support Sinn Fein policies. Any objective look at city hall, would show that we decide our positions based on our own principles, voting with policies rather than on a sectarian outlook.

That means that we have voted with unionists on issues like local plans and Irish language street signage policy.

In terms of the issue of removing materials from bonfires, he again seems to be unaware it was reinstating an existing policy which his own party was perfectly happy to support behind closed doors only a few short weeks ago.

If unionists had not blocked the policy there would have been none of the publicity or ramping up of the matter. Unlike the UUP, Alliance is happy to be consistent in our support for residents who do not want their homes and their environment damaged or their lives put in danger.

We have the courage of our convictions to come out and defend our decisions, unlike others who seem more interested in attacking others mainly based on false premise.

Councillor Dudgeon is entitled to his own opinions but he is not entitled to his own facts.

Michael Long, Alliance leader, Belfast City Council