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Heated debate over Ulster Scots councillors’ ‘no show’ at this year’s ‘Leid Week’ event

Newry Museum

A council has committed to an annual ‘Leid Week’ event despite concerns raised of non-attendance by Ulster Scots councillors.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) had previously approved a motion from DUP councillor Alan Lewis, to celebrate and promote Ulster Scots/ ‘Leid’ (Language) Week (Nov 20-24) following an equality and good relations agreement.

One of the keynote events of the week was a history and tradition talk by former DUP MLA, Nelson McCausland at Newry Museum (Nov 22) attended by 23 people.

However, Crotlieve SDLP councillor, Declan McAteer raising his concerns, said: “As someone who attended the event along with the council chair (Valerie Harte – Sinn Fein), I would just encourage some of the councillors of the Ulster Scots background, to attend these seminars and meetings after asking for them at council.

“It was a very marked fact, that none of them were present.”

With notable tensions rising in chambers, strategy, policy and resources committee chairperson, Leeanne McEvoy (Sinn Fein) warned the chamber against making “tit for tat” comments.

Slieve Gullion UUP councillor, David Taylor responded: “I was actually at a council committee meeting that night.

“And with all due respect the event was organised at fairly the last minute.

“So, a lot of forward planning could be done to make sure it doesn’t clash with other council commitments, that would assist on allowing other councillors to attend.

“So, I think it was pretty poor of Cllr McAteer to make a cheap jibe like that.

“But, fair enough we can work towards a better attendance next year subject to making it a night that suits as many councillors as possible.”

Mournes rep, Alan Lewis also confirmed he had another commitment on the night.

It was agreed that the council would review its diary ahead of next year’s Leid Week.

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