Following a decision by a committee of Belfast City Council to set up a Standards and Business Committee, People Before Profit Party Group Leader Fiona Ferguson said:
“This appears to be a concerted attempt by Sinn Féin and the DUP to shut the voices of smaller parties out of full council meetings by setting up a carve up committee. In the wake of a disastrous COVID response from the Executive, any move to limit democratic opposition is abhorrent.
“Both Sinn Féin and the DUP implemented similar business committee changes at Stormont following the election of Gerry Carroll and others, and the outcome has severely limited the ability of smaller parties to speak.
“This new business committee would be given the power to block motions from being debated at full council meetings. It will fundamentally undermine the ability of smaller parties to have their views heard as they are far more likely to have their motions blocked by big parties.
“Under these new rules, a motion from a smaller party could be automatically sent to a committee where they do not have a vote. It would allow bigger parties to decide which motions are ‘strategic’ and constitute an ’emergency’, and given the utter disdain bigger parties have expressed to People Before Profit emergency motions against Stormont decisions, it isn’t hard to work out whether or not our motions will be blocked.
“Every other party on committee voted against this but it was proposed and seconded by Sinn Féin and voted through with the support of the DUP. We think their intentions are clear and unprincipled.”