City Councillors straining to be heard inside Magee’s Great Hall

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Local politicians usually don’t have much trouble making their voices heard on a range of subjects but the temporary facilities for meetings in the Great Hall at Magee have left many local councillors silent.

The monthly meetings of Derry City Council have been held at the university since January because of the ongoing restoration work at the Guildhall where the meetings are normally held.

Councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about the choice of the Great Hall as a venue for the monthly meetings, citing problems with the acoustics as their main worry.

A number of councillors have said the size of the room and the high ceilings make it very difficult to hear what is being said at the meetings.

At a number of meetings, SDLP Councillor Sean Carr has called on Derry City Council Chief Executive, Sharon O’Connor, to look at the possibility of finding an alternative venue for the meetings.

At this month’s meeting, held in Magee on Tuesday, Councillor Carr once again voiced his dissatisfaction with the venue and asked for an update on the search for new premises.

And, as if to reinforce his point, Councillor Carr’s attempts to raise the concerns at the meeting almost went unheard because of problems with the amplification system.

Two new ‘speakers’ were installed in the room for the meeting following concerns expressed at previous meetings, but they did not appear to be working.

Support staff were called in to look at the speakers, located under the press table in the middle of the hall. After several minutes checking the microphones and the connections, it was discovered that the volume controls on the speakers had been turned down and simply needed to be turned up.

Once the problem was rectified Councillor Carr was able to make his point to the chief executive.

Mrs O’Connor responded by saying that it had been decided to wait until after the Council’s Annual General Meeting, to make a decision on whether to continue to hold the meetings in Magee or look around to see if another suitable venue could be found.

The committee meetings of Derry City Council are currently held at the Council offices on Strand Road because of the refurbishment work at the Guildhall.