TUV pulls out of Mid and East Antrim group leaders’ forum

The DUP has welcomed a decision by a second Unionist party to withdraw from the group party leaders’ (GPL) meetings of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 12:38 pm

The TUV has decided to pull out of the forum which has been taking place with the council’s chief executive Anne Donaghy during the Covid pandemic.

Group leader on the council, Councillor Gregg McKeen blamed leaking of information from these meetings as the reason for the DUP departure earlier this month adding that he would be prepared to return if “trust could be built back up again” and “everyone can abide by the guidelines”.

He said that no decisions were taken at the group party leaders’ meetings.

DUP Cllr Gregg McKeen

In a statement issued by the DUP group on the council on Wednesday,  Cllr  McKeen said: “We welcome the decision of the TUV to withdraw from the group party leaders’ forum with immediate effect. This follows on from our decision to withdraw a number of weeks ago.

“As a majority of councillors have now withdrawn from the forum, we will be asking the chief executive to discontinue the meetings to reflect the will of the council.

“The parties which selectively leaked confidential information from this consultative body to score political points must now reflect on the consequences of their actions.

“Contrary to what these parties and some in the media will now say, the discontinuation of the forum will have no effect on the decision-making processes of the council.

Cllr Matthew Armstrong

A statement issued on Wednesday by TUV Mid and East Antrim Council group leader Matthew Armstrong said: “This morning I advised the chief executive of the council that TUV have decided that they will not participate in group party leader meetings until further notice.

“Sadly these meetings, designed to be a sounding board for the executive arm of council, have become more of an information gathering exercise for media outlets in recent times, allowing some parties to further their political agenda and narrative publicly, in complete contravention of the spirit in which the meetings are intended.

“GPL meetings have no decision-making function, and we prefer that the democratic process be carried out in front of committee or full council so that we all get our say at the same time.

“I would assure ratepayers that this will not impact in any way on the TUV council team’s ability to deliver for them. It will, however, mean that there is less opportunity for some people to spin about what is going on in the council.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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