Councillors hit out at Tuesday night’s Council meeting about recent reports in this newspaper about the treatment of some members in the Chamber with claims it had become a “cold house” for some.

It comes following our report after last month’s Council meeting detailing the moment Independent Councillor Sorcha McAnespy was laughed at and jeered by some male Councillors while she was speaking.

Subsequently a number of female Independent Councillors spoke out last week about their treatment in the Chamber.

The incident sparked questions of sexism within the Council which SDLP Councillor Mary Garrity strongly refuted this week.

Councillor Garrity told the meeting at Enniskillen Townhall that it was important that the issue was brought up saying: “At last month’s Council meeting there was an incident reported in the local papers (sic) that was at best ‘poor journalism’ and it insinuated that there could be tone of sexism in this chamber.

“As someone speaking here who is a former Chair of this Council and current Chair of Environmental Service I want to refute any of those allegations.”

Councillor Garrity went on to defend the Councillors involved saying it was terrible that Councillors, Baird, Thomson and (Frankie) Donnelly, who were named on social media and even in the newspaper, that there could be some connotations of sexism and that was not the case.

She continued by saying she did not want the Council be some sort of “Harvey Weinstein outfit” and said to be called sexist is a serious allegation and that is not something that she had ever been subjected to in her five years in this Council nor would she stand for it either.

Chairman Howard Thornton said he did not want any further discussion to take place on the matter and told Councillors that if they had any complaints there were procedures in place to follow.

Later on in the meeting, Sinn Féin Debbie Coyle brought a tweet sent by a journalist for this newspaper during the meeting to the Chamber’s attention.

The tweet linked to an online version of the article last week containing claims by Independent Councillors Sorcha McAnespy, Joanne Donnelly and Josephine Deehan.

Councillor Coyle who spotted the tweet during the meeting said it was a “disgrace” and she would encourage all parties to encourage their female members to “come forward and stand for this Council as it was not a cold house for females.”

Chairman Thornton thanked Councillor Coyle for bringing this to the Council’s attention and wanted no further discussion. Councillor Coyle’s fellow Sinn Féin member Sheamus Greene took umbrage with Chairman Thornton’s denying any further discussion and said that if Councillors wanted to discuss these matters they should be allowed to.

“I find it slightly distorted. There were 10 Councillors at the beginning talked about the same subject and they were let and if Councillors want to bring this up they are very entitled to do so,” said Councillor Greene.

Chairman Thornton told Councillor Greene that he had made a determination and there would be no further discussion.