Byrne calls for ‘transparent debate’ on Council Health Committee formation

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info@newrytimes.com
Thursday, September 7th, 2017
Community, Politics

SDLP Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Bryne has called for openness and transparency in the process of the formation of a Health Committee at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council after new proposals downgraded the new Committee to a Health Working Group.

Speaking to Newry Times, Byrne said, “As Councillors, we have a duty, not only to speak, but to act on behalf of public opinion, to ensure what has been called for following the Daisy Hill protests is delivered.

 

 

“Council unanimously passed a motion in May to establish a Health Committee, a statutory committee with decision making powers to address the growing concerns regarding the health provision across the district.

“Since May, many conversations have been had regarding the new structures, including talk of working groups, which would be presented to Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee for debate.”

“At the Committee meeting last week, a paper was presented asking Councillors to agree to the formation of working groups as opposed to a full committee. While I fully appreciate the arguments put forward for working groups, I do not agree with the reasons given on why a committee is out of the question.

 

 

He continued, “How we deviated from the motion passed to form a Health Committee to the tabled proposal needs serious clarification. We certainly can’t be populist with ideas where we are promising the public something and the behind closed doors we’re changing it for unknown reasons.

“This is why I have called for an open and transparent debate so that we as Councillors can make an informed decision whilst being honest with the public about how we arrived at this decision.

 

 

“I also do not accept that there is any issue with representation on a committee considering that all parties have agreed to take politics out of health. We can negotiate both the political and non-political make-up of a new committee with ease.

“A recent statement however, has stated that ‘it was made clear to Councillors that the Health Committee motion passed was beyond the powers of the council’, that certainly is news to me. At no point during my discussions with officials has this ever been mentioned.

 

 

Byrne added, “If Councillors are moving to rule out a committee then we must be absolutely sure on the reasons why. To date, I have received no information to convince me of this. Again, I would call on the Council to provide this information openly and transparently so we can be sure that the decision we are making is in the best interests of the people.”


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