Councillors clash over renaming of council buildings

Image caption Councillors in Londonderry voted to back the ban by eight votes to five

A row has broken out in Londonderry after councillors voted to ban the renaming of council-owned property or buildings after politicians.

A Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) audit committee backed the proposal put forward by a working group established to examine issues around the naming of council assets.

On Tuesday, councillors voted eight to five in favour of the ban.

Sinn Féin was the only party to oppose the move.

DUP councillor Hilary McClintock said the ban would help maintain cross-community relations.

"We want everyone to feel comfortable using all council assets.

"I think it was very important that we have that proviso in there, because the last thing we want to do is jeopardise good relations built up over a long number of years here."

Sports facilities

But Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue described the ban as "disappointing" and said there was some confusion as to who exactly it excluded.

"The proposal that was passed yesterday not only excluded political figures but also government representatives. Who is a government representative?

"Does this policy not, in essence, mean someone who is a council employee who are great sports people or who contribute to music or art, are we now preventing them or their families from having the opportunity of naming something after them?"

She called the decision "short-sighted".

The council will initially run a six-month pilot, that will solely cover the naming of sports facilities in the council area.

Ms Logue said the naming ban will "come back to full council and we will have a chance to look at this again".

SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said public spaces need to be "open to everyone."

"Our public spaces should be free from political argument and enjoyed by all citizens and all ratepayers."

Meanwhile, a council working group set up to examine renaming the council-owned Brandywell Stadium in memory of the late Derry City captain, Ryan McBride, has decided to put the decision out to public consultation.

The 27-year-old footballer died suddenly last March.