DUP man breaks party lines but council votes against lighting up town hall for Pride

The proposal would have seen Ards town hall lit up in the rainbow colours for Pride celebrations
The proposal would have seen Ards town hall lit up in the rainbow colours for Pride celebrations

A DUP councillor voted against his party colleagues for the second time last night as a proposal to light up Ards Town Hall in the rainbow colours for future Pride celebrations was defeated.

The proposal was first put forward at Ards and North Down Borough Council at a committee meeting earlier this month, where it gained the backing of DUP councillor Tom Smith.

However, a DUP amendment that removed the proposal to light up the town hall was passed by 20 votes to 16 when it came before a full meeting of council last night.

While 17 DUP councillors backed the amendment, councillor Smith voted against party lines for the second time.

Green Party councillor Rachel Woods said she was “very disappointed” to see the proposal to light the town hall up defeated.

“I would congratulate Tom on his position on this,” she said. “We need to promote and celebrate our diversity and that is by pro-actively promoting things.

“What was being proposed was for the council to take some small step in some small way to do our part to eliminate discrimination. But we are being continually held back on rights issues.”

The Alliance Party, who first put the motion forward at a committee meeting last month, also expressed disappointment.

“This is a real blow to all who believe true equality should not be this hard to achieve in 2018, especially after the recent words of support from Arlene Foster which have now proven to be very hollow,” said Councillor Andrew Muir.

Councillor Gavin Walker added: “As the father of a gay man, I find it upsetting that some of my council colleagues have taken such a decision – essentially signalling they do not value my son’s contribution to our society. It is completely unacceptable that anyone should be made to feel different, but to be made to feel so by politicians who are supposed to stand up for everyone cannot be allowed to continue.

“As a council we had the power to send a strong signal, to make a change that would have brought comfort and support to so many. All those who voted against this tonight have made an uninformed decision.”