An independent unionist councillor has hit out at the behaviour of Mid Ulster MLAs following a recent spat over funding for Orange Halls.
Concerned for the future of unionism in the area, Cookstown council representative Robert Kelly, told the Mail: “With an important election on the horizon, as usual we have the unionist electorate thrown into disarray.
“The perceived personal dislike that exists between Ian McCrea and Sandra Overend has once again been allowed to spill over on to the pages of the local press.
“The point I am making,” he continued, “is that all this chest thumping and handbag swinging is not doing the cause of unionism any good.
“I am sure the people of Mid Ulster are only too happy to get money invested in their area, no matter who secures the bribing rights for getting that investment.
“The problem as I and many others whom I have spoken to see it - is an ego clash.
“We seem to have Ian thinking it’s fun to make people think Sandra is in some way in superior to him and that he is the only one who is doing anything for the unionist cause in Mid Ulster. But people won’t be duped again by his preelection stunts.
“The good people of Mid Ulster have had enough of these petty squabbles.
“If this is all that people are to expect in the future is it any wonder we have so much voter abstention?
“Our representatives only have themselves to blame for the unionist population not coming out to vote. The ironic situation, is that the unionist people’s perception to all these petty playground spats is that they see nationalist areas getting new community halls and GAA clubs getting large investment across the district.
“But what they don’t see is nationalist politicians airing their dirty laundry in the pages of the local press or taking cheap swipes at each other on the floor of the Assembly.
“As a member of the loyal orders I have spent time in various halls across the country and the members of the various orders are to be commended for the hard work they do fund-raising to keep their halls in good order.
“But sometimes it becomes harder and harder to keep buildings in good spec and any investment is more than welcome, no matter what quarter it comes from.
“Ian McCrea says in his statement that he wants to see unionist parties work together.
“If that’s the case, it’s time he stepped up to the mark and put these infantile disagreements to the side.
“Sandra says the UUP will do what’s right for Northern Ireland, well let’s see that happening.
“They are two adults with three offices between them, some one of these offices is the place to air their differences and get the wider unionist community working together for the good of all their constituents.
“We are in the middle of celebrating 100 years of unionism, if the leaders then saw the way we are tearing each other apart, it would make them turn in their graves.
“It’s time to bring forward someone who will bring the unionist people back together - rather than another four years of faceless representation.”