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Facebook disagreement brought into Council chamber as councillor demands apology

The topic was on International Women’s Day ‘fiasco’ of a male keynote speaker.

Tierna Kelly and Gareth Sharvin

The deputy chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s (NMDDC) has failed to gain a public apology from a fellow councillor during an item discussing International Women’s Day (IWD).

The Council’s strategy, policy and resources committee approved the minutes of the Women’s working group on Thursday (March 14) night, when details of an approach to IWD were discussed.

However, it was a Facebook disagreement that was brought to the attention of the chamber surrounding the council’s decision to have a male keynote speaker at the IWD event (March 8) in Newry.

Rowallane Alliance rep, Tierna Kelly wrote on her social media: “I was disappointed at full council on Monday (March 4) evening that councillors did not get the opportunity to discuss the fiasco surrounding the IWD event organised by the council.

“Despite not being an item on the agenda, councillors normally get the opportunity to raise urgent matters at the beginning of a council meeting during the chairperson’s remarks, however this was shut down by the SDLP chair and no comments or questions were allowed to be raised.

“There has been no formal discussion in council to discuss how this decision was made nor how councillors can review the process to prevent something similar happening again.”

In chambers, NMDDC deputy chairperson, Gareth Sharvin (SDLP) reacted, saying: “This hardly relates to the item (Women’s working group minutes), but partly it is a request, for Cllr Kelly to issue me a public apology for a statement, she put on her public platform on Facebook and also in the press.

“Where, she accused me as the chairperson (of committee) at the time of shutting down any discussion, no comments or questions were allowed to be raised in relation to the item she has spoken of (IWD).

“As hopefully any councillor knows under standing orders it is the discretion of the chairperson how the meeting is run.

“It is also common practise, that anyone who had an item under chairperson’s remarks, would approach the chair in advance of the meeting and ask that the item be either read out or be considered.”

He added: “I certainly ask that she rectifies what she states very publicly that is against my character and that she does apologise for that accusation, because it is totally inaccurate.”

Following further discussion by other members in the chamber, Cllr Sharvin concluded: “I take it that Cllr Kelly is not going to take the opportunity to publicly apologise because I can hear Cllr Enright (Alliance) ‘try tell a woman what to do’.

The committee chairperson, Siobhan Murphy (Sinn Fein) acknowledged to the chamber: “No, she is not taking the opportunity.”

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