Council puts external appointments on hold

Paul Gallagher
Connla Young

A new super council has put its external appointments process on hold after a challenge by a group of independent councillors.

Derry and Strabane District Council took the step after four elected representatives complained about the way members were nominated to outside bodies.

The councillors, Gary Donnelly, Darren O'Reilly and Dermot Quigley from Derry, along with Strabane-based Paul Gallagher, claim the authority failed to follow a motion passed in March to use the D'Hondt system.

They also claim the wording of the original motion was later amended.

A ‘call-in' mechanism was launched after the four councillors were allocated just five seats out of a possible 300 on external bodies.

A council official last night confirmed the ‘call-in' has been accepted.

The independent councillors have emerged as a powerful block within the new council since it came into being in April.

A ‘call-in' means a council decision can be reconsidered if 15 per cent of councillors believe it was not properly reached or would have an adverse effect on a section of the community.

It is understood the four independents were supported by former SDLP councillor Sean Carr and an unnamed unionist.

Mr Gallagher, who was allocated no seats, claimed he and his colleagues had been “disenfranchised”.

“Who decided to implement this method as opposed to the one with regards to the position of responsibilities?” he said.

“We are of the opinion that the process used to fill these external positions does not represent this full council, it is undemocratic, nor is it in the spirit of equality and fairness therefore we propose that this council correct the procedures used.”

Mr Gallagher also asked “what discussions were held prior” to the original motion being amended.

A spokesman for the council confirmed that "the call-in has been accepted and will be discussed by committee before the end of the month”.


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