A MEETING of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council was suspended for a time on Tuesday night after Chairman Stephen McCann was accused of a “conflict of interest” when he rejected a Unionist amendment during a discussion on the 1974 murder of Trillick councillor Patsy Kelly. 
Mr. Kelly, an independent member of Omagh District Council, was murdered and dumped in Lough Eyes near Tempo with weights tied to his body after being abducted.
His family believe that members of the Ulster Defence Regiment were involved in the murder and have serious concerns about the original investigation by the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Sinn Fein’s Glenn Campbell proposed his party’s motion, which Councillor McCann and his colleagues signed, that the Council welcome the Police Ombudsman’s efforts to continue to investigate “the failure of the RUC and the PSNI” to bring to Mr. Kelly’s killers to justice.
“The Council notes with particular concern the Ombudsman’s revelation of potential local links between the killers of Councillor Kelly and members of the notorious Glenanne gang that included serving members of both the Ulster Defence Regiment of the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary and was responsible for the murders of many innocent Catholics throughout the North. 
“The Council calls on anyone who may have information concerning the murder of Councillor Kelly to forthwith disclose it to the Police Ombudsman,” read the motion. 
An amendment by the Ulster Unionist Party was rejected which later resulted in Vice Chairman Alex Baird wading in to question the decision by the Chairman. 
“It wasn’t my intention to speak on this matter at all,” he said.
“When I look at the signatories to the motion, Chair, you are one of them. I am of the opinion that you have a conflict of interest in adjudicating on against the relevancy of an amendment.”
A few minutes later the meeting at Enniskillen Townhall went into recess. 
When the meeting was reconvened the original motion by Sinn Fein was passed, with 20 councillors voting for it and 14 voting against it.
Earlier the debate heard from a number of members, including Councillor Campbell who criticised the “so called security forces.”
“The last people known to see Patsy were members of the UDR at a checkpoint outside Trillick,” he said.
“I hope we will not see any attempts to dilute or generalise this motion,” said Councillor Frankie Donnelly. 
“I call all of us who support justice and truth to support this motion,” he said.
Independent Councillor Bernice Swift read, with permission from the Kelly family, a transcript of a recording that Mr. Kelly’s son made with her through the victims’ group Firinne that she manages.
“You would like to think that we would get answers as to what happened that night as to who did it? And why they did it? We have a right to know.”
Ulster Unionist Robert Irvine said “all murders need to be condemned.”
“This one is no different. Unfortunately this is not just one murder but several hundred carried out across Fermanagh and Omagh that remain unsolved,” he said. 
“A Catholic murder is just as deplorable as a Protestant murder,” said Councillor Irvine.
“Sinn Fein’s selective condemnation gives air to the continuation of sectarianism when they bring forward motions such as this,” he said, describing it as “deeply flawed”, “misleading” and “speculative. This motion is further proof of the rank and perverse hypocrisy of Sinn Fein,” he said, proposing an amendment to the motion which read: “This Council welcomes continued investigations by the authorities into all killings.”
“The Council notes that during the Troubles 90 per cent of all deaths were caused by terrorists; 60 per cent by republican terrorists and 30 per cent by loyalist terrorists.
“The Council calls on anyone who may have information concerning any murder during the Troubles to forthwith disclose to the relevant authorities.”
But Councillor McCann, who was chairing proceedings, said: “It seems to me that’s a brand new motion proposed there.”
“My contention is that this falls under standing orders and so therefore can be taken as an amendment,” replied Councillor Irvine. “I would disagree with your interpretation of that, I see that as nearly a brand new motion,” said Councillor McCann. 
“I would contend that you are going against standing orders,” said Councillor Irvine. 
Later Councillor McCann referred to Standing Order 29 in which the ruling of the Chairperson as to the interpretation, construction or application of any of these Standing Orders or as to any proceedings of the Council, shall not be challenged at any meeting of the Council. 
SDLP Patricia Rogers recalled how there had been “shock and anxiety” in the community following Mr. Kelly’s abduction. “For me this is not political, it’s personal. We want to support the Kelly family,” she said. Democratic Unionist Councillor Errol Thompson told the Council that Mr. Kelly’s killers “should be identified and brought to justice.”
“The motion is a thinly disguised attempt to continue a narrative that every murder in Northern Ireland was the result of collusion involving the forces of the state.
“This motion does not take away from the outrage caused by you as Chair of this Council, when you found yourself unable to condemn terrorism,” he said, referring to remarks Councillor McCann made in an interview with The Impartial Reporter. “I regret that members of the unionist community have misinterpreted this motion,” said Independent Councillor Josephine Deehan.