In fighting form for first meeting of 2014

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Craigavon councillors were in argumentative mood for the first meeting of 2014 on Monday evening.

Sinn Fein’s Johnny McGibbon clashed with the Mayor on a number of occasions while the DUP’s Carla Lockhart got very heated over an alleged “unparliamentary remark” from a fellow councillor.

Voices were raised and fingers pointed at Monday’s meeting as councillors started the year in fighting form.

When discussing minutes from the previous council meeting DUP group leader Ms Lockhart raised the issue of an “unparliamentary remark” made by Sinn Fein’s Mark O’Dowd.

She said that during a debate on pest control provision at the last council meeting Councillor O’Dowd told the DUP to “grow a set”. However she was annoyed that his comment wasn’t included in the minutes of the meeting before council for ratification.

At the time Mr O’Dowd had denied he’d said “grow a set” claiming instead he’d said “grow a sense of sensibility”.

Ms Lockhart said she’d taken great offence to the comment. She demanded the minutes be amended to include his remark.

As tempers flared Mayor of Craigavon Mark Baxter intervened and got embroiled in a war of words with Mr McGibbon, who claimed he could say what he liked in council.

Mayor Baxter insisted that he was “in control” of McGibbon and his fellow councillors.

Their bickering continued throughout the meeting until eventually their reached a form of truce.

Mr McGibbon said: “You need to respect my right to speak and I will respect your right to chair the meeting.”

As far as the “grow a set” comment was concerned the DUP maintained they’d definitely heard Mr O’Dowd say it, while Sinn Fein members denied the utterance.

Councillor Gemma McKenna said Miss Lockhart herself had made an “unparliamentary remark” when she told the DUP to “man up” when discussing parking in the borough.

Councillor Mark O’Dowd wasn’t present at this Monday’s meeting but such was the pantomime of the ongoing argument that at one stage it seemed Mr O’Dowd would appear in council chamber and someone would yell, “He’s behind you”.

Ms Lockhart’s proposal to amend the minutes of the previous meeting was defeated in a vote. The DUP councillor was furious with the abstaining UUP councillors who she said “didn’t have the guts to stand up and vote for what they knew was said on the night”.

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