Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Dissident republican Gary Donnelly takes Derry and Strabane super council seat and faces IRA bomb motion

Gary Donnelly of the 32 County Sovereignty was elected to Derry and Strabane Council
Gary Donnelly of the 32 County Sovereignty was elected to Derry and Strabane Council

The first meeting of the new Derry and Strabane super council saw dissident republican Gary Donnelly take his seat for the first time last night.

Within minutes of the shadow council meeting he was the target of a motion condemning the IRA bombing of the Everglades Hotel in Derry 10 days ago.

DUP Councillor Maurice Devenney asked that the new council, which met at the Guildhall in Derry, reiterated unanimously Derry City Council's condemnation of the bomb attack at the Everglades and that the new council also records its support for the PSNI and the “magnificent job they do”.

This won support from Gerard Diver on behalf of the SDLP bloc who said they had “no difficulty” with Mr Devenney's statement.

Councillor Kevin Campbell spoke on behalf of Sinn Fein and said it was already “crystal clear” that his party had condemned the bomb both in the Derry City Council chambers and in the media.

Ross Hussey and Mary Hamilton from the UUP were also happy to be associated with Mr Devenney's suggestion.

None of the independents spoke on the matter, however during a recess called to clear confusion which arose during the procedure to select councillors to the various departments, Mr Donnelly, a prominent member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, described Mr Devenney's actions as “a gimmick and a publicity stunt”.

Once normal business got under way, Sinn Fein Councillor Maolíosa McHugh was elected Presiding Councillor of the new super council.

Mr McHugh, who won a seat in the Derg electoral ward last month, said he was honoured to have be the first chair of the new council and realised the next 10 months would be a “steep learning curve” for all the councillors.

He added: “I hope the new council will create the dynamics for economic growth within our community so we attract the funding to meet the needs of all of our residents, in health, education and in employment which we in the North West have felt deprived of.”

His selection was straightforward and uncomplicated, however proceedings during the selection to the various council departments left a few people scratching their heads, including the new Chief Executive John Kelpie.

There was also an element of confusion over the selection of the Deputy Presiding Officer, who was Mr Devenney.

A short time after his selection, the new Presiding Officer actually asked “who is the Deputy Presiding Officer?”

Eventually order was restored and the new councillors all stepped outside to have their photographs taken.

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