Congratulations to Sinn Féin councillor William Clarke who has become the party’s first ever chairperson of Down district council. In the staunchly Nationalist council, it may seem strange that this is the first Sinn Féin chair, however fair play to those who have worked hard on the ground to ensure this has become possible.
Jim Wells DUP MLA has reacted with typical nonsense, threatening that Mr. Clarke would not be welcome in certain parts of the district. It is of course unfortunate that Mr. Wells has reacted in such a petty manner. Other councils have for years practiced power sharing and many Sinn Féin dominated councils have had DUP chairs and vice-chairs. This is only right as principles of power sharing are the only method by which this society can move forward towards stable power sharing. The election of people like Willie McCrea to positions of responsibility in Nationalist communities would have caused hurt among those Nationalists and Republicans affected by the UVF and LVF gangs whose leader Willie was so happy to show support for. But principles of power sharing mean you have to take the rough with the smooth. We must move forward by embracing compromise rather than trying to assert superiority. Jim Wells needs to learn this.
Also, I see Mr Wells claims that “Down district is, as far as I know, the only council in Northern Ireland never to have a Sinn Fein chairman or vice chairman” Is Monica Digney is line for a shock promotion in Ballymena or is Wells simply showing his ignorance?!