'Abusive behaviour' at public meeting in Derry condemned

From right to left, Arlene Foster (DUP leader), Karen Mullan (Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle) and Gary Middleton (DUP MLA for Foyle).
From right to left, Arlene Foster (DUP leader), Karen Mullan (Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle) and Gary Middleton (DUP MLA for Foyle).

Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Karen Mullan, has condemned those responsbile for what she described as "abusive behaviour" at a public meeting in Derry on Tuesday evening.

It is alleged that DUP MLA for Foyle, Gary Middleton and Alderman, Hillary McClintock, were forced to leave the meeting amid fears for their safety.

The meeting, which took place in the Verbal Arts Centre, was designed to address concerns about cuts to the Western Health and Social Care Trust's budget.

"The abusive behaviour at tonight's [Tuesday] consultation meeting was wrong and should be condemned," said Ms Mullan.

"It does nothing to aid the campaign against Tory/DUP cuts to public services."

Ms. Mullan added: "Public debate and discourse should always be carried out in a dignified and respectful manner.

"The purpose of these consultation meetings is to give the public the opportunity to raise their genuine concerns about the impact of the Tory/DUP cuts with health service representatives.

"Sinn Fein will continue to raise concerns about the impact of the cuts on front-line public services."

The incident was also condemned by DUP leader, Arlene Foster.

"Gary Middleton MLA and Councillor Hilary McClintock were intimidated and heckled to such an extent they had to leave the meeting," said Mrs. Foster.

"I condemn this bullying behaviour. This is not how democratic politics should work. This approach resembles a fascist society rather than a democratic society. Whilst there will be differing views in public meetings, people should not be surrounded and forced to leave by an emergency exit. Their point should have been heard and respected."

Mrs. Foster added: "Gary and Hillary attended the meeting on behalf of their constituents. They wanted to express their view on how to improve health care in the north-west. That opportunity was denied by extreme and dangerous elements.

"To have any public representative attacked in the manner, which was on display tonight is shameful. Such hate cannot be tolerated."