Tensions reported at Derry community planning event

Independant Councillor Gary Donnelly. (0605PG64)
Independant Councillor Gary Donnelly. (0605PG64)
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Concerns have been raised over allegedly “controversial” events at a community planning meeting held in the Bogside in Derry on Thursday afternoon.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly raised the matter at Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Assurance, Audit and Risk Committee meeting later on Thursday.

Colr. Donnelly’s request for standing orders to be suspended to discuss events at the earlier meeting however was not backed by the required majority of councillors present at the Guildhall.

While a majority voted in favour of his request for a suspension, Sinn Fein Councillors present voted against such a move.

The Council had organised the earlier community meeting at Pilot’s Row in the Bogside as one of a series of eight such events cross the city and district to establish a Local Community Planning Group within each District Electoral Area.

The Moor ward meeting was convened to develop a team to take forward a Local Community Plan for the area.

The plans are being introduced to develop ‘local actions to address local needs’, and will involve residents, businesses, community and voluntary groups, statutory partners and all other organisations in each area.

Colr. Donnelly however claimed the event at Pilot’s Row had been “very controversial” with “a lot of acrimony”.

“Some people felt intimidated,” he claimed, adding that one candidate put forward actually ended up walking out of the meeting.

He further alleged that different procedures were used at the Pilot’s Row Community Planning meeting to those used at another Community Plan meeting for Ballyarnett at Skeoge House on Thursday morning.

The final meeting was due to take place on Thursday evening in the Rosemount area.

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “A number of meetings are currently taking place in District Electoral Areas to facilitate the appointment of interim chair positions to the Transition Community Planning Partnership.

“Individuals have been invited to put themselves forward or nominate individuals to these roles prior to the community meetings and before the positions are allocated. Appointments are subject to a vote taken during each event.”

“The spokesperson said that a Chair was “successfully appointed to seven out of the eight areas to date, with the latest being in the Moor District Electoral Area this afternoon”, adding:

“The same selection process has been implemented throughout all community areas to ensure that all appointments are fairly and accountably managed.”