Council legal bid to block PM rejected

DUP group leader on Belfast City Council George Dorrian. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
DUP group leader on Belfast City Council George Dorrian. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Share this article

A motion calling for Belfast city Council to take legal action against Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament has been voted down at City Hall.

The request, submitted by five SDLP councillors, was rejected by 18 votes to 12 during a special sitting of the council yesterday.

While the motion was supported by the SDLP, Greens and People Before Profit, Sinn Fein and Alliance abstained, and all unionists voted against it.

Speaking to the News letter after the meeting, DUP group leader on the city council, George Dorrian said the move was “nothing more than a publicity stunt”.

He added: “If we are to spend money preparing for Brexit, it should be on practical things to make sure the city is ready for it, rather than chasing after a legal action which others are already engaged in.”

UUP Alderman Jim Rodgers UUP said the proposed legal action would have “wasted thousands of pounds of ratepayers’ money”, adding: “It was highly unlikely such action would have been successful anyway.”

“This was pointless exercise by the SDLP. It is time people abided by the democratic will of the majority who voted to leave the EU.

“Also, it was pointed out to those who proposed this motion that Boris Johnson has been lobbied to support the £350m Belfast City Deal. Do you bite the hand that feeds you? You most certainly don’t.”

SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite said he was “very disappointed” with the outcome, stating: “We should be using every avenue available to us within the realms of the law to challenge and prevent a no-deal Brexit and this suspension of Parliament.”

When asked how he responded to claims that the legal challenge would have amounted to a waste of ratepayers’ money, he replied: “The impact on the ratepayers of Belfast in the event of a no-deal Brexit would be severe and so it would be remiss of us not to take every opportunity we can to prevent that from happening.

“Unfortunately some parties have decided to sit on their hands instead.”