A motion on local Government pension schemes caused heated exchanges at a meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council held in Omagh on Tuesday night, with discussion turning to the Israeli Palestine conflict.

The motion, put forward by Sinn Fein Councillor Anthony Feely, sought for the council to call on “Local Government Officer’s Superannuation Committee to divest the local Government pension scheme from fossil fuel companies.”

The motion went on to call on the same committee “to bring forward an ethical investment policy and desist from investment in tobacco and arms companies.”

The motion passed, with the DUP abstaining, but not before UUP Councillor Victor Warrington was stopped during his response to the motion and told by the Council Chair, Siobhan Currie to keep his reply to the motion at hand.

Councillor Warrington began his reply by saying:

“I am usually quite sceptical of motions such as these which call for blanket disinvestments, boycotts or prohibitions. This is especially the case when it comes from a Party with as a chequered and deceptive track-record as Sinn Fein. Only a few weeks ago they were calling for the boycott of Eurovision because Israel was hosting it. Yet even now they are still falling over themselves to get a meeting with Hamas – the sadistic and terrorist Palestinian organisation responsible for indiscriminate attacks on civilians, which use Gazan civilians as human shields and whose leaders cower in underground bunkers.”

A number of Councillors began to speak at this stage calling on the Council Chairwoman to intervene, which she did, telling Councillor Warrington to keep to the motion that was before the Council.

Speaking after the meeting Sinn Fein Councillor, Chris McCaffrey, who seconded the motion stated:

“Councillor Warrington’s outburst last night was completely out of line and had no relevance whatsoever either to the motion or anything that we were discussing. I asked that Councillor Warrington withdraw his statement regarding the ongoing illegal settlement of Palestinian land by the Israeli government as I felt it was out of line and did not pertain in any sense to our motion.”

However Councillor Warrington remained steadfast and speaking yesterday he said:

“A councillor is allowed three minutes to respond to a motion. The interruptions during my response were not right.

“Three of the people who did so are new to the Council chamber so perhaps they do not understand the procedure,” he said before adding that he felt the intervention of Chairwoman Currie was premature:

“I was asked to keep to the motion, which I was doing and I had barely got into my response when I was interrupted. Politics is not easy and we will disagree from time to time but we have to have respect for every party’s right to have a say.”

The DUP, while agreeing with the need to move away from investment in fossil fuel companies, proposed an amendment to the motion.

This was defeated with the original motion passing with the support of the SDLP, UUP and other councillors.