Row over naming council

DUP councillor Paul Rankin has suggested that the new supercouncil should be named ABCD - so as to include Dromore in its title.

Friday, 3rd October 2014, 7:06 am

Mr Rankin was speaking this week as a row erupted over the naming of the new supercouncil.

DUP members of the ABC ‘shadow’ council have locked horns with other parties over the name of the new body, which takes power next April.

In a series of confidential workshops, the 13 DUP members among the 41 have been pushing hard for the ‘ABC’ title to remain, reflecting the three councils from which it is being formed – Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.

Some suggest that the word Armagh must figure large in the new name in order to retain the honour of having a Lord Mayor however it has been established that there will be a Lord Mayor whatever the title.

“Craigavon has the largest population and we are proud that our borough was named after Lord Craigavon, the First Prime Minister of Northern Ireland,” suggested one source from Craigavon Council.

“And ABC will also represent the other two councils, with Armagh, the primatial city, coming first.”

A DUP source revealed that names suggested so far included ‘Armagh and Bann’, ‘Armagh and Down’, ‘Armagh City and Upper Bann’ and ‘Oriel’, one of Ireland’s nine ancient kingdoms which coincides almost entirely with the new council area.

However Dromore Councillor, Paul Rankin of the DUP said that councillors in Banbridge felt the name ABC should remain but suggested that the council should go even further and name it ABCD.

“I am personally ok with the ABC as Dromore can identify to an extent with Banbridge in the title,” Mr Rankin said.

“If they wanted to name it ABCD that would be even better (‘D’ would stand for Dromore).

“It would be difficult to find a name that would please everyone but just to include Armagh and not to include Craigavon or Banbridge in the name would create a disconnect with ratepayers in those areas.

“What is more important than the name is the service that the new council provides. I believe that my party colleagues are broadly of the same opinion.”

A nationalist source said Craigavon Borough Council had been “and remains sectarian since its formation in 1973, and it’s time to move on”.

The DUP, however, pointed out that unionists had a two-thirds majority in the shadow council – 27-14, with 13 DUP, 12 UUP, one independent unionist and one UKIP.

Ulster Unionists, though, are ambivalent, with Armagh City and District members keen to continue the cross-community ethos that has existed there.

One source said, “Armagh was one of the first councils in Northern Ireland to share responsibility and we don’t need the sectarian attitudes of Craigavon to spoil things. We rotated the Mayoralty – and then the Lord Mayoralty – without D’Hondt being imposed.

“Banbridge also worked in harmony and we must continue. It will have to be done this side of Christmas, as things like the new logo and stationery have to be designed.”