SPEAKING to the Mid-UIster Mail Sinn Féin have accused Unionist members of Magherafelt District Council of being wedded to the past in their pursuance of a negative agenda and refusing to recognise nationalist aspirations within council.
The statement comes as Councillor Seán Mc Peake hits back at comments made by George Shiels UUP in relation to Irish language taking precedence over job creation.
Councillor McPeake said: “George Shiels` new found interests in the promotion of `jobs for Roman Catholics` should be seen for what it is. I find it somewhat ironic that Unionists would at this time wish to see council interference on seeking the same site for council development as is currently being advanced as a possible new Irish medium school in Maghera.
“Could it be that this interference would possibly damage any proposals already on the table from other quarters for this site thereby potentially scuppering any prospect for the advancement of the Irish education proposal, such is their distain for the promotion of the language?
“Given local government constraints Sinn Féin has and will continue to be on the forefront in the promotion of our local economy within our district. Rather than creating nonsense stories with fairytale figures we having been promoting positive and realistic projects that will aid the local economy and create job opportunities despite facing unionist opposition every step of the way.
“Projects such as the Magherafelt town centre regeneration and the successful planning approval for a new hotel in Castledawson will make a real contribution to the local economy and create jobs. How does the unionist rhetoric around job creation stack up against their opposition to these projects? Going forward, Magherafelt District Council is being merged into the larger Mid-Ulster council and Sinn Féin will be asking that council takes a holistic view of how it can further stimulate the local economy and look at all aspects of where council can assist.
“This dinosaur unionism and resistance to any change, regardless of apparent benefits, permeates through issues right across council. The local unionist hysteria and opposition over Sinn Féin`s introduction of staff Whistleblowing policies and workers flexi time working where bewildering especially considering that it occurred on the week that the same Unionist`s Ministerial colleagues were writing out to health workers encouraging the use of the same protectionist policies.
“There are also on-going attempt by Unionists to deny the articulation of any manifestation of the Irish language within our district. Whether it is their objection to Irish language road name plates or an Irish language policy for our council, these attempts will similarly fail. Unionists need to examine how their constant negativity is being portrayed within wider society of the district. Slow to come to terms that the Sinn Féin mandate within council now gives the party freedom and the courage to be progressive and forward looking in meeting the needs of the citizens we represent.”
He addded: “Sinn Féin will not take lectures from negative unionism. We will continue to lead from the front in providing strong civic leadership for all within our district. It is time unionism realised that they can play a positive role based on equality and mutual respect. It is time they ditched the negative rhetoric, abandoned the walk-outs and played their part in truly representing their peoples.
“Progress will continue to happen and unionist have two options; they can continue to bemoan and shout from the side-lines or step up and make a positive contribution and help shape policies for the benefit of the people they are supposed to be representing. It’s a simple choice between pointless posturing and positive contribution.”