MAGHERAFELT DUP Councillor Paul McLean claims he was ‘silenced’ by Mid-Ulster District Council's Chairman, Cllr Sean McPeake in a heated debate concerning the development of a goldmine in the Sperrins.
The motion was brought to Council by Councillor Brian McGuigan. It called for the Council to oppose plans to develop a goldmine and processing plant in the Sperrins and wider region.
When the DUP group leader was given a chance to speak on the motion, he declared that his party would not be supporting it.
“I believe this is the start of Sinn Fein’s election campaign and a stunt to coax people into supporting them,” he said. “This is the same party that are now speaking about environmental issues when for almost 40 years they bombed and destroyed our towns and rural communities.”
At this point the Chair interjected and told Cllr McLean referring to Sinn Fein in this way was out of line and informed him his remarks should be “withdrawn”.
Cllr McLean refused to withdraw the comment and a shouting match ensued before Cllr McPeake told the DUP representative: “Your remarks accuse Sinn Fein of these actions and you will not withdraw them, therefore, we will be moving on, end of.”
It was claimed the Chair silenced the Magherafelt representative, with Cllr McLean heard to accuse the Chair of “silencing proper democracy in this chamber”.
This decision was criticised by UUP group leader Trevor Wilson, who told the Chair that he was “wrong in silencing Councillor McLean”.
Speaking after he felt he was curtailed in his efforts to express his view, Cllr McLean told the Courier: “I was silenced because I was flagging up the hypocrisy of their argument about protecting the environment.
In a statement released to the Courier after the paper went to print, Mid-Ulster District Council Chair, Sean McPeake, explained his decision to stop Cllr McLean speaking.
"Having made a scandalous and patently untrue statement regarding another political party, which he would not withdraw, I did not allow Councillor McLean to continue speaking," he said.
Read more in this week's Mid-Ulster Courier.