Northern Ireland news

Derry and Strabane councillors trigger ‘call-in' over appointments

Independent Derry and Strabane councillor Paul Gallagher has said the way the council appoints to external bodies is 'undemocratic'
Connla Young

ELECTED representatives in Derry have challenged the way their council makes appointments to external bodies.

Eight councillors at Derry City and Strabane District Council have triggered an official `call-in' process over the way appointments are made.

The procedure allows contentious decisions to be reconsidered if 15 per cent of councillors believe it was not properly reached or would adversely affect a section of the community.

Among those who have signed up are former SDLP councillor Patsy Kelly, who now sits as an independent, UUP councillor Derek Hussey and several independent republicans including Strabane based Paul Gallagher.

Mr Gallagher said councillors took the decision to challenge the appointments process over the way the d'Hondt system is used to appoint people.

He said that appointments to council committees are normally made in sequence until every post has been made. This ensures that every party representative or independent is appointed in their turn.

However, when it comes to eternal bodies, the council reverts back to the start in each case.

He says this means that appointments tend to be weighted in favour of the larger parties which are entitled to a larger share of appointments.

Mr Gallagher said the current system means that some councillors are failing to be appointed to bodies.

"It's undemocratic to the people who voted for us," he said.

"We believe that a wide section of the inhabitants of the district would be adversely affected by this decision with the exclusion of the independent members and the Ulster Unionist Party across a wide range of groupings that help form and shape the strategic objectives of this council.

A council spokesperson said "a call in had been received".

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