Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has again descended into farce. At the latest meeting, the DUP Chair has muted left-wing councillors. First Donal O’Cofaigh, Cross-Community Labour Councillor was muted. Then it was anti-goldmining councillor Emmet McAleer. Independent Eamonn Keenan indicated he wished to speak, but wasn’t even called in.
This was at a meeting where Sinn Féin and the DUP rammed through a 2.72% increase in the rates.The SDLP enthusiastically supported. The DUP Chair only called councillors from the mainstream parties during the discussion.
Donal and Emmet were not called until after Council voted through the increase. Calling in Donal, DUP Chair Errol Thompson told him “and I’ll just remind you that the vote has been taken overwhelmingly.” He reminded Donal he only had three minutes.
Donal said he wanted to protest that “we were completely excluded there from having any input into probably the most important…” At that point, the Chair interrupted: “Can I just stop you there. You weren’t excluded.” As Donal resumed, the Chair spoke over him. “Our voices weren’t heard,” Donal protested. “There’s no public debate on it,” the Chair interrupted. Continue reading “Fermanagh and Omagh Council – an undemocratic farce!”
The Sinn Féin chair of a shambolic meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has excluded independent anti-goldmining Councillor Emmet McAleer from a Council meeting. During most of the meeting, he only called party colleagues.
McAleer’s offence was to query the stance of Sinn Féin on an application for ‘permitted development’ status for seven boreholes by Flintridge Resources near their goldmine at Cavanacaw, just outside Omagh.
At a previous meeting, Sinn Féin councillors had allowed a similar application through by strategically not taking part in the vote or being absent. This time they opposed the application. McAleer said: “This is absolutely shambolic. Sinn Féin remained mute the last time and are now trying to claim the glory. What is going on with your party?”
In recent months, sharp debate was sparked in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council around controversial court action to extradite the well-known Republican Liam Campbell, to Lithuania. The hearings are being held in the Dublin courts, but such is the controversial nature of the issues involved that there has been widespread awareness north of the border.
Fermanagh and Omagh Councillor, Donal O’Cofaigh, had an opportunity to speak during the key debate in the Council. As always, Donal outlined a principled cross community labour position that challenged repression, paramilitarism and attempts to create sectarian division in the working class. Donal’s brief speech is carried below. Given the limited time available when he spoke at the Council meeting, he could not develop a more detailed view on state repression, sectarian division and paramilitary campaigns. We intend producing a longer article to address those issues.
“A proposal was passed by the July 8th meeting of a committee of Fermanagh-Omagh District Council regarding extradition proceedings against Liam Campbell. This recommended that the Council write to the offices of An Taoiseach and the Department of Justice and Equality in Dublin in support of Liam Campbell and against his extradition to Lithuania on charges relating to the purchase of arms.
“The original proposal has been followed by a related motion from the UUP, and this motion has attracted several amendments which are now both before us at this full council meeting. The media has covered all of these developments and many people in our council area are following our discussions intensely, especially the families of those who died in the Omagh bomb.
Northern Ireland is a society scarred by its history. The legacy of the conflict over the national question is everywhere apparent; painted flags, kerbstones and murals mark territories and promote narratives. But just as the history of the working-class has been excluded consciously from these ‘green’ and ‘orange’ narratives so too is the hidden legacy of sexual abuse of children which until now has largely been left unexplored.
Fermanagh journalist, Rodney Edwards, deputy editor of the local newspaper, The Impartial Reporter, was investigating reports of a paedophile ring operating in the county when he started to receive more and more reports of sexual abuse spanning decades into the past. A common feature was that the victims had reported the incidents to the police but there was an apparent failure to investigate or see the cases through.
The cases were predominantly reported during the period of the long armed conflict, known as the ‘Troubles’.
Those whose names have been made public span the breadth of society. One alleged prominent abuser, David Sullivan, worked as a bus driver and was reportedly responsible for a range of abuses of children (sometimes on school buses) in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of those abused by Sullivan claim that he abused them in conjunction with unnamed prominent businessmen. Sullivan’s dismembered body was found in the early 2000s and the culprit for the killing has never been found.