The minister, Mark H. Durkan, who last week tweeted: ‘It will be interesting to see how it unravels’ when asked in advance about the ban, will now have to give serious consideration about how to deal with what the proposer of the motion, Bert Johnston as, ‘a messy an environmentally unfriendly product’.
And, it was far from a harmless debate, with one DUP member, Alison Brimstone, accusing Sinn Fein member, Ruth Lynch of introducing ‘sectarian politics’ into the discussion.
Ms Lynch, who quipped: ‘this has got to be the silly season’, had suggested that councillors would be better employed discussing other forms of litter.
Addressing the proposer, she said: “Maybe your proposal should include the banning of union flags, and I can tell you there are shredded ones that are still flying when you’re coming into town here.”
Councillor Brimstone reacted.
“I am disgusted that this debate has turned into a sectarian debate. We have an opportunity here to do something about our town centres and villages. What about this ‘shared future’ idea? I am gobsmacked and very disappointed.”
Earlier, Mr Johnston readily admitted that Silly String, an aerosol spray that emits a sticky string-like material, was all the rage at gatherings, such as festivals and Twelfths.
“It sticks to kerbs, walls, footpaths, windows and doors and it’s quite a job to get it removed. In fact, it’s nigh impossible to clear it.”
He went on: “It is banned already in six countries and I would like to see it banned in Northern Ireland.”
Raymond Farrell, who had allowed his jacket to be used for a demonstration (the Silly String, in fact, fell on to the table), said a constituent had come to him about it having damaged his brickwork.
“There are other concerns as well. Flammability and it can cause frostbite and it can block sewers.”
The issue then went to a vote and the proposal was carried by 12 votes for, and 8 against, with one abstention, Sinn Fein’s Stephen Huggett.
The remaining SF members voted against, and the two SDLP members for.
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