The Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has publicly defended himself after he was accused of abusing his position when he criticised “the neglect shown to this district” in a speech.

Howard Thornton spoke of the uncertainty around Brexit, issues to do with education, roads, health care and broadband and the lack of investment by Stormont during a Council meeting earlier this month sparking controversy.

“We are the most neglected district in Northern Ireland. We are starved of capital investment and jobs from past local executives,” said Councillor Thornton, suggesting that the Council write to Secretary of State Karen Bradley demanding a meeting with her by an all party group.

He was accused of abusing his position and the matter was deferred to the next policy and resources meeting which took place last week during which Sinn Fein’s John Feely spoke of his disapproval.

“I have some concerns,” he said, “When the chair decides to step outside standing orders there is nobody to hold him to account and stuff,” said Councillor Feely.

“I have a couple of problems with the actual proposal. We have to speak to Karen Bradley on the cuts her government has been implementing,” he said.

DUP Councillor Errol Thompson said he was “disappointed” by Councillor Thornton’s proposal “and some of the wording within” while the SDLP’s Brendan Gallagher said: “It was something that was sprung on us.”

However Independent Councillor Josephine Deehan defended the chairman, saying: “Councillor Thornton is merely seeking an urgent meeting with the secretary of state.”

Responding, Councillor Thornton told the committee meeting: “It in no way was meant to be as politically charged as what I have been accused of, that was never the intention.

“It was trying to do something about us being disproportionately affected. I hope we can keep this party political thing out of it,” he said.