Brown hits out at attempts to silence party

Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown has hit out at attempts by others to “silence” the party on Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, after two important motions were sent to committees instead of being discussed in the Council chamber.

Councillor Brown was speaking after yesterday’s Council meeting, where he and others proposed and seconded motions on suicide prevention and declaring a climate change emergency. However, the Sinn Féin Chair referred both motions to committees, while allowing another motion to be heard.

“These are both vitally important issues, which are frequently brought up as priorities by ratepayers, and which I made promises on as part of my election campaign. It was therefore unfortunate they were referred to committees, neither of which I sit on and therefore cannot vote on, which has been a tactic used in the past to minimise the amount of open and transparent debate.

“My thanks go to the DUP, UUP and most of the SDLP, who agreed both motions should be heard in full Council, but sadly this was rejected by Sinn Féin.

“Motions are one of the best ways for smaller parties and independents to be heard and represent the views of their constituents. I believe this is a clear attempt to silence those voices on the Council, which carries on from previous votes by bigger parties there to exclude us from key Council groupings.

“While this is no doubt a result of the stellar electoral performance of Alliance and others across the district, I don’t think it is fair on those who voted for us to have such vital issues sent to committee, away from the scrutiny and discussion of the full Council chamber.”