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Last Updated: Monday, 28 February 2005, 16:18 GMT
Anyone fancy a Fairtrade cuppa?
The humble cuppa has left a bad taste in the mouths of some councillors in Castlereagh.

Alliance Party members want all coffee and tea products to be Fairtrade, but other councillors say they simply don't like the taste of it and prefer the big brand names.

A row is on the brew at Castlereagh Borough Council
A row is on the brew at Castlereagh Borough Council

As a result, Castlereagh Council has voted to oppose extending its Fairtrade policy.

But as a row brews, members have offered a bit of a sweetener to Alliance.

Councillors have agreed to taste a selection of Fairtrade tea and coffee before their next meeting, to see if they can tell the difference.

Alliance councillor Michael Long, who proposed changing the council policy, said his party would do all in its power to have the "tasteless" decision overturned, given that Fairtrade Fortnight begins on 1 March.

"People have complained about the taste of a single product which shows their lack of understanding of Fairtrade, because there are a wide range of tea and coffee products," he said.

"The latest figures show the current council's Fairtrade policy to be a bit of a sham, given that the amount spent on Fairtrade products has fallen from 43% to 36% over the past year.

"When a policy is failing it is not good enough to simply continuing to back it.

Fairtrade goods
Fairtrade ensures workers are paid a fair price for their product

"This is not charity, it is about ensuring a fair day's pay for a day's work and that the working environment is safe and healthy."

Mr Long said it was not the beverages which were in poor taste, but the council's failure to "back a meaningful policy and so stand up for those who have been exploited and who are forced to live in abject poverty".

However, Jim White of the Democratic Unionist Party, who did not back Mr Long's proposal, said people did not drink Fairtrade tea and coffee because they did not like it.

He said: "Our party bent over backwards and said we'll offer both. People would have the choice as to whether they drink Fairtrade tea or coffee, as opposed to the normal brand.

"I think that's a fair choice. You can't impose on people what they should be drinking."

He said he did not have a problem with Fairtrade products, as he regularly bought Fairtrade bananas and other fruit.

On Tuesday, Fairtrade Fortnight gets under way in Northern Ireland and will continue until 13 March.

It will be marked at the Spires Mall in Belfast by a sale, free coffee tasting, live music and a visit to the shop by the Lord Mayor.

The annual nationwide event comes this year amid moves to make Belfast a Fairtrade city.


SEE ALSO
City wins Fairtrade recognition
15 Oct 04 |  Southern Counties

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