Criticism marks end of council chairmanís reign

Thursday, 7 June 2018

The outgoing chairman of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Sinn Fein's Stephen McCann, faced further criticism at the council's annual meeting on Monday night at which the new chairman and vice-chairman were formally elected.
Normally a night for congratulatory messages to the outgoing chairperson and vice-chairperson on the work they had done, as well as good luck wishes to the incoming officer-bearers, the night turned somewhat sour when Mr McCann was once again accused of causing hurt and distress to innocent victims during his year in charge following comments about the Enniskillen bombing of 1987 he made in a newspaper interview some months ago.
Controversy threatened following Mr McCann's final address as chairman and before Howard Thornton, of the UUP, was elected as the new chairman with Sinn Fein's John Feely taking the vice-chairmanship. The elections follow the d'Hondt system of rotation according to party strengths on the council.
During the past year West Tyrone councillor Mr McCann sparked anger when, although accepting it was wrong, he said he would not "go down the road of condemning" the Enniskillen bombing of 1987, which killed 12 people and injured 63, and again was rebuked for his praise of  IRA man, Seamus McElwaine, in the same interview.
An online petition calling for him to be removed from the position of Fermanagh and Omagh council chairman garnered close to 1,500 signatures from members of the public, while DUP, UUP and SDLP councillors walked out of a council meeting he was chairing in Enniskillen Townhall in July after Mr McCann refused to withdraw his comments regarding the Enniskillen Bomb. An official complaint was also made to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards about his comments and an Ulster Unionist motion of no confidence in the Trillick man later failed.
After Mr McCann's final speech as chairman on Monday night, in which he paid tribute to his fellow councillors and officers "for their hard work and dedication", Erne East councillor Victor Warrington of the UUP, said Mr McCann's comments about the Enniskillen Bomb had saddened him.
Full story in this week's Tyrone Constitution...


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