Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Byrne calls on Council Chairperson to reflect on her accusations

SDLP Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne has called on the Council Chairperson to reflect on the accusations of abuse she levelled against Councillors and members of the public following last Monday’s full Council meeting.

He said Councillors and members of the public present for the motion had witnessed “an appalling but successful attempt to shut down debate on the issue.”

“Since then, we have seen an extraordinary attempt by the Chairperson and her party to discredit Councillors pushing for the debate to take place and members of the public in attendance who are heavily involved in the Albert Basin Park Project campaign.’

‘I must challenge these accusations directly and I invite members of the public to listen to the audio available on the council website to get a true reflection of what occurred. During the at times heated discussion on standing orders the Chairperson accused me personally of ‘screaming’ over Councillors and made reference to the language I was using, I now believe that these were both diversionary tactics to open the door to playing the victim. I have since received cross party support from Councillors who have rubbished these accusations.’

‘What concerns me more, however, is that these accusations have also been directed at members of the public who were present to hear the motion. It is clear from the audio available that those present are passionate about the issue and can be heard applauding after we were successful in getting a recorded vote for the suspension of standing orders. Rules state that members of the public must remain quiet throughout proceedings, and quite rightly they were called out for this minor disturbance.’

‘Considering the evidence available which now refutes these accusations, I call on the Chairperson to reflect on these accusations and attempts to discredit those in favour of a 15-Acre Albert Basin Park and to divert attention away from this important issue. The community activists present on the night are a passionate group of people who have dedicated time and an enormous amount of energy in driving this campaign for the people of Newry. We as public representatives must be open and transparent in the decisions we make on behalf of ratepayers and these accusations will do little to instil confidence in local government to deliver for them.’