A POLITICIAN has strongly criticised his own council for not cleaning Ballynahinch before a major Loyalist parade on Monday.
Thousands of Apprentice Boys from all over Northern Ireland descended on the local town for the annual Easter Monday parade which is one of the highlights of the Loyal Order’s marching calendar.
But as the marchers arrived in the town, DUP councillor William Walker lambasted Newry, Mourne and Down Council for failing to spruce up the town before the event.
Mr Walker claimed he had been assured by council officials that mechanical sweepers would be deployed to the town on Saturday morning to ensure areas such as Langley Road, Lisburn Street and the town centre would be looking good for the visitors.
“It is absolutely disgraceful that no clean-up took place and Ballynahinch was looking far from its best on Monday,” said Mr Walker.
“I had sent emails to the technical services department last week and had received assurances that the sweepers would be deployed and that Ballynahinch would be spruced up,” he added.
“But when Monday came it was quite clear the work hadn’t been carried out and the local organisers of this major event were left feeling very let down by their local council.
“There will be thousands of Apprentice Boys, their families and spectators in Ballynahinch today making this one of the busiest tourist days of the year for the town. Yet the council did absolutely nothing to spruce up the town to give us the opportunity to impress our visitors.”
Mr Walker also claimed that had nationalists and republicans been looking for a clean up operation for an Easter Rising event the council could have “moved much quicker” to carry out their wishes.
“I have no doubt the council would have bent over backwards to accommodate a nationalist request over an Easter Rising parade and that the mechanical sweepers would have been despatched to carry out a clean up,” he continued.
“But because it was a Unionist event nothing happened, even though it attracted thousands of visitors into the district.”
“I will be seeking answers from senior council officials later this week to find out why such a snub was delivered to such an important event,” added councillor Walker.