Community groups funding row

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Councillors in Londonderry have disagreed over funding for two community groups

A decision to take up to £20,000 from an emergency fund to bail out two struggling community groups has caused a row among councillors in Londonderry.

Councillors narrowly voted to give the money to Newbuildings Community Centre and the Diamond Centre in Claudy at a confidential meeting of Derry City Council on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein voted against the move, arguing it was setting a dangerous precedent, but it was carried when DUP councillors voted with the SDLP.

Mary Hamilton of the Ulster Unionists was not present for the vote.

SDLP councillor Thomas Conway, who proposed the motion, said he can not guarantee other applications would be approved.

"The alternative was very bleak, " he said.

"Our rural communities have very few services and these are extensively used.

"As a council we could not replace that, like for like, at anywhere near the amount of money the services are currently being run at."

Sinn Fein's Maeve McLaughlin said she had the " greatest sympathy" for the groups but supporting the funding decision would "set a precedent outside current council policy".

DUP Alderman, Maurice Devenney, said he was "delighted" the funding had been approved.