Byrne questions Council’s ‘transparency’ over Health Working Group

September 11, 2017

Slieve Gullion SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne has challenged Newry, Mourne & Down Council on the openness and transparency of its structures, following last Monday night’s Full Council debate on the establishment of a Health Working Group.

Questioning the decision making process behind the agreement to set up a Health Working Group as opposed to the Health Committee unanimously voted for by Council in May, he explained that following subsequent discussions at three Party Representatives meetings a paper was presented to a recent Strategy, Policy & Resources Committee which focused solely on the development of a Working Group with no information presented on a Health Committee.

“I found this totally unacceptable and requested that information on both options be brought back to us so we can make an informed decision on the best way forward,” he said.

The SDLP Councillor insisted that the Party Representatives Forum has no decision making powers and said its remit “has slowly expanded without any authority to do so and amounts to an abuse of the council structures.”

‘His proposal at Monday’s meeting calling for all documents to be made available to the SP&R Committee and an open and transparent public debate on the issue take place was defeated by 19 votes to 14.

“The lack of accountability does not seem to bother some councillors who seem content to nod through decisions made by the officers time and time again,” he said, adding that he has asked the Council’s Chief Executive to “relook at the council structures and respect the role of elected representatives on the statutory committees.”

“The public are growing increasingly tired of the lack of transparency and I will continue to call it out on their behalf.”