The DUP, Sinn Fein and the PUP have combined to vote through the controversial use of Belfast ratepayers’ money for ex-terrorist prisoners.
The proposal to give £230,000 to ex-prisoner groups and victims’ group WAVE – which the News Letter revealed two weeks ago – was formally rubber stamped at Wednesday’s council meeting by 35 votes to 23.
The SDLP and UUP opposed the proposal.
Alliance councillor Laura McNamee expressed concern about how “organisations that are in the know can write in” and “without any due process” be given large sums of money.
Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh said he was a “former political prisoner”, one of six such individuals on the council, and said the groups were doing valuable work.
DUP councillor Christopher Stalford asked the Sinn Fein councillor if he would agree that it was the “height of hypocrisy” for an Alliance councillor to question “due process” around the money to ex-prisoner groups when Alliance pressed for the Ulster Orchestra to be given money when it had written to the council. Mr McVeigh said he agreed with the DUP man.
Mr McVeigh went on to describe those who were imprisoned during the Troubles as “victims of the conflict”.
Mr Stalford said “innocent victims” were “prepared to lend their support to the project”.
UUP councillor David Browne opposed the proposal, arguing it was a “dangerous precedent”.