MAGHERAFELT District Council’s vice-chairman, Councillor George Shiels has accused Sinn Fein of treating Roman Catholics as “second class citizens”.
But he refused to comment following a council committee meeting when asked if Sinn Fein was guilty of dumping an opportunity for 1,100 jobs for the Magherafelt District in favour of an Irish language secondary school initially to house 17 pupils.
The Ulster Unionist member commented, “The meeting you refer to must be the Finance and General Purposes committee held last week when many issues were discussed. I cannot comment on any discussion at that meeting which may or may not have centred on the Irish language or the lost jobs potential which you mentioned, or indeed how that might all relate to the former Maghera High School site.”
The councillor continued, “Whilst I support the freedom of the press, I would point out that I cannot comment on specifics or matters discussed at a meeting held in committee.”
When pushed on his opinions regarding the former High School site the councillor said, “Speaking hypothetically, I would love to see the former school site being used to support businesses in the district, and yes I can speak to you on rumours which allege that Sinn Fein are interested in the site for an Irish language school with a first year intake of 17 pupils. I haven’t heard the figure of 1,100 lost job opportunities, but it’s hard to quantify numbers of jobs when you add in the ancillary supply chain.”
When pushed further Cllr Shiels remained tight lipped and would only say, “I’m giving no further comments on something hypothetical, but I will say this, the Roman Catholic / Nationalist community are being treated as second class citizens by Sinn Fein, they are being treated shabbily with the entire SF emphasis being placed on the Irish language and job creation is not on Sinn Fein’s radar.”
“Sinn Fein is taking their core vote for granted knowing that it’s just a matter of feeding folk on the Irish language and neglect on job creation will be blamed on the Brits as usual.
“It’s time for the Nationalist/ Republican community to put pressure on Sinn Fein to create more jobs, for mark my words, if we don’t develop our manufacturing base then the UK government will quite rightly see us in the same light as the EU sees Greece at the moment. I don’t have to spell out the repercussions of that.”