Councillor reported over confidential information Twitter post but details remain a mystery

Tanya Fowles

Councillor reported  over confidential information Twitter post but details remain a mystery

Members of the press were asked to leave a meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council after a member raised concerns over a social media post which was described as taken from confidential information not discussed in public.

It was established a member is suspected of posting information via Twitter, but both the content of the Tweet and the identity of the councillor is unknown.

The issue was raised by SDLP Councillor Mary Garrity who said: “Leaking of information out of this council on confidential matters has been a concern, especially in recent times. It’s affecting members here as well as officers and general members of the public.”

She continued: “Last week at a special meeting, a Tweet appeared on social media. This Tweet related to information at the meeting in which matters were discussed in confidence. This could be a breach of the code. I have brought this to the attention of the Chief Executive. As a corporate body I think we are duty bound to show contempt for this. I am proposing council officers investigate this and take any action deemed necessary.”

This was seconded by Ulster Unionist Councillor Robert Irvine.

Chief Executive Alison McCullagh advised: “If there is a potential breach of the code it wouldn’t be the council or officers who investigate, it would be the(Local Government) Commissioner.”
She confirmed of being aware of the social media post in question, but added it was a matter which required the council to refer it to the commissioner, as opposed to officers.
Independent Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh asked whether the councillor is question has been informed about the Tweet.

Ms. McCullagh said members are aware of their social media activity adding: “I can confirm information contained within the Tweet was not disclosed in public.”

Sinn Fein’s Councillor Sheamus Greene stated: “It’s hard to know what to say about that proposal because none of us know what we’re agreeing to or not agreeing to. I know there’ve been different breaches in the chamber. I can remember different things. By doing it the way we are, every one of us has been accused by association. I think we need more clarity.”

At this point Council Chair Siobhan Currie enquired if Councillor Garrity wished to expand on the matter, which would require matters to go “into confidential business” (Press excluded).
This was agreed and seconded by Councillor Irvine.

Discussions continued for around 15 minutes, after which Press were invited to return.

The Chief Executive provided a brief update stating: “It has been agreed the matter should be referred to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards for investigation as a potential breach of the Code of Conduct.”

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