11/06/2005

DUP and democracy? Oil and Water!

Although the issue has been well covered on various other blogs, I thought I might as well add my comments on the row over the election of the DUP's WIlliam Wilkinson to Ballymena Council following the death of the SDLP councillor Margaret Gribben. Now as you all know, my political sympathies aren't exactly in tune with the SDLP but in this case, I believe they have been treated disgracefully and have every right to be enraged over the subversion of democracy by the DUP. Only 6 months ago the electorate in this ward voted for 3 DUP councillors, 1 UUP and 1 SDLP. Therefore it is clear that this is the DEMOCRATIC wish of the people in the ward. However due to the rules governing PR-STV elections, obviously any election with only one seat will be won by the DUP. The DUP have, in effect, stolen the seat and I am glad that the SDLP have chosen not even to enter the contest since to do so would only only Mr. Wilkinson some semblance of democratic credibility which he does not deserve.

The duplicity of the DUP on this issue can be clearly seen through the words of their MLA for the area Mervyn Storey who claims that "the SDLP are afraid of losing and believe that, in some way, they should be immune from the electorate."

Of course the SDLP will lose but the point is that on the grounds of the initial and proper election 6 months ago, they fairly won their seat.

Storey goes on to accuse Nationalists for wanting the DUP to pull out of elections altogether. What utter nonsense. All Nationalists want is for the DUP to respect the will of the people as demonstrated in May.

It is clear that a system of co-option is needed for councillors like what is in place for the assembly elections where, for example, Bairbre de Brún was replaced as MLA for West Belfast after her election to the European Parliament. Such a system would be much fairer than what has happen here. Most parties have acted with dignity and common sense, the DUP have not. Should we really be surprised? Mr Wilkinson may "Love Ulster" and be a member of "FAIR" but he certainly doesn't love democracy nor act with a sense of fair play.

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