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Democratic rights of elected members being "denied"

Rachel McNabb

Reporter:

Rachel McNabb

THE basic democratic rights of elected members in Mid and East Antrim are “being denied”, SDLP Councillor Declan O'Loan claimed during a recent council meeting.

Cllr O'Loan made the comment after he was prevented from speaking on matters relating to the minutes of the August Policy and Resources Committee meeting.

Cllr O'Loan informed last week's full council meeting that he wished to make reference to three matters contained in the minutes.

However, Chief Executive Anne Donaghy, advised that Cllr O'Loan “did not submit to speak on the items”.

She explained that the only person registered to speak under standing order 3.10 was Cllr Timothy Gaston.

Cllr O'Loan replied: “I am here at a council meeting as a councillor and I wish to speak on issues that are coming from a committee. It must be possible for a member to do that.”

The Chief Executive commented: “If you go to your standing orders under 3.10 any members wishing to raise any issue regarding any matters appearing in the minutes submitted to council for approval must state his or her request in writing to the Clerk and Chief Executive or the relevant person so that it shall be in the hands of the chairman of the committee 24 hours before the commencement of the council meeting.

“Unless you have submitted under 3.10 you are not able to speak on this item. There was the opportunity to speak at the P&R committee. I did make every member aware at the previous council meeting that the item was being discussed so that every member had the opportunity to go to the P&R committee even though you maybe weren't on it.

“I drew it to your attention specifically because I knew members have had a lot of issue and debate about it.

“I actually went a step further than I would normally do in highlighting to you what's on the P&R agenda.”

Cllr O'Loan said it was “utterly unreasonable” that an elected member is “restrained” from speaking on the issues and asked that he be permitted to do so.

Mayor, Cllr Lindsay Millar reminded Cllr O'Loan of standing order 3.10.

Cllr O'Loan replied: “Do we want our matters discussed in here or in the public arena, which is the better place? Other members ought to be concerned about what they are hearing, that the basic democratic rights of councillors are being denied.”

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