03 March 2006

SDLP no vote for Daily Ireland


Unionist politicians, aided by SDLP and Alliance councillors, rejected a motion in Belfast City Council last night (Wednesday) to include Daily Ireland in its advertising list of approved national daily papers.
A decision to include the North Belfast News’s sister paper had passed at committee stage after a Sinn Féin amendment, but it was knocked back by full council at last night’s full council meeting. The decision now means that only the Belfast Telegraph, News Letter, Daily Mirror and Irish News can publish Council legal notices in respect of applications for licences and permits.
13 Sinn Féin councillors voted to keep Daily Ireland on the list, while 20 unionist and Alliance Party councillors voted no.
Five SDLP councillors abstained including North Belfast councillors Pat Convery, Alban Maginness and Cathal Mullaghan.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast North Belfast Councillor Pat Convery, who spoiled his vote, said the decision not to vote was made by the SDLP group before they went into the council’s chamber.
“Basically the group made the decision before they went into Council based on the information we had,” Pat Convery said.
“That’s the decision we came to after a long discussion – the auditing was used for all other papers, it was only right it should be applied to Daily Ireland.
“We’ve no problem supporting it if the Northern Ireland Target Group Index (NITGI) figures were available. What we want is the verification of a large cover of advertising.”
Daily Ireland publisher Máirtín Ó’Muilleoir said the decision would not deter the company.
“For 34 years Belfast City Council has had a policy of diverting advertising away from the Andersonstown News group. That policy landed them in hot water with the Ombudsman before now and it is to be hoped that in 2006 they will start to behave in a businesslike and fair manner,” he said.
“For our part we will report the news fairly and without prejudice to any party.
It’s up to the Council and to the parties within to make the same commitment in the allocation of their advertising.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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