McShane fails to bring in ‘Standing Orders’

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BALLYCASTLE Sinn Féin councillor, Cara McShane, has criticised councillors for not supporting her proposal to introduce ‘Standing Orders’ into Moyle District Council.

Councillor McShane said: “Moyle Council is the only Council in the North which does not operate under Standing Orders.

“For a corporate body making decisions on a regular basis concerning the allocation and expenditure of public funds, it is incomprehensible that we do not have rules and procedures which govern how we carry-out our business.

“Without Standing Orders, councillors continually raise issues which have previously been agreed upon and reverse decisions on a regular basis.

“Decisions often refer to property matters and capital projects which involve seeking valuations and tenders, which under the current system could be ultimately over-turned.

“For too long, ill-informed decisions are voted upon a whim, as councillors know they have the discretion to bring the matter up again for a new vote at the following Council meeting.

“I am extremely disappointed that the Unionists Councillors and Councillor Blaney did not agree to the proposal of introducing a mechanism that would help make Moyle District Council a more professional and efficient decision-making body.

“As councillors we have a responsibility to deliver in terms of public services for the people in this area. Standing Orders would help ensure that we do this efficiently and that time is not wasted on continually going over the same debates.

“Sinn Féin has raised this issue in the past and we will continue in our efforts to make Moyle Council more professional and efficient.”

Cllr Donal Cunningham (SDLP) said: “Moyle Council is the only council not to operate a system of Standing Orders. Given that council recently approved a restructuring of departments and senior management, the logical conclusion would be to use this opportunity to adopt a more efficient and professional approach with regard to Council meetings. Standing Orders should become an essential component of how the Council conducts its business at political and officer level.” 

Cllr Joan Baird (Ulster Unionist) said the irony is that when she joined the council one year ago, she proposed the introduction of Standing Orders into the council but said that at that time Sinn Fein were against.

Cllr Baird said that it is “too late in the game” to have such a significant change in council practice.

Cllr Baird speculates that the true reason that Standing Orders were returned to Council “was as a ruse for protecting the Gaza Strip twinning decision” and to stop it coming under scutiny.