FERMANAGH and Omagh District Council rejected a proposal put forward by Sinn Féin’s, Councillor Sean Clarke, to send a delegation over to Brussels to highlight local concerns about Brexit going forward.

Councillor Clarke’s suggestion that the delegation of “no more than six people” to represent Council was seconded by his party colleague, Councillor Sheamus Greene.

Prior to the proposal’s defeat, Councillor Greene, said: “For us to sit back and depend on other people to do the lobbying would be remiss of us and a dereliction of our duty to the people of this area.”

After the proposal failed, the UUP’s, Councillor Chris Smyth, (right) said: “I have spent a bit of time in Brussels in another capacity and it can be a very expensive city to operate in.

“For the money involved, I don’t think the benefit is in any way justifiable.

“We live in an electronic age. We don’t necessarily have to jump on a flight. What about Skype? That is a lot cheaper.”

Councillor Smyth then proposed that council should “investigate some sort of collaborative approach, with other border councils, using electronic means to avoid the expense involved of going on a plane to Brussels”.

This proposal also failed. However, three proposals related to the issue would eventually get carried.

One of these was put forward by Councillor Adam Gannon of the SDLP (right). He favoured further discussion and deliberation on the topic before Council made a firm commitment regarding who exactly they were meeting and where.

He said: “My proposal would be that council officers could investigate who the most appropriate people should be for us to engage with because Europe is in a state of flux at the minute, after its election.

“Once this is done, we can then decide whether we either invite them over here to meet us, send a delegation to Brussels or communicate online.”

Councillor Bernice Swift, an independent, seconded the proposal, saying: “I agree with Councillor Gannon – we don’t want to be too hasty.

“We want to meet the Barnier team – anything less is no good because nobody else is really listening.

“Even the British Secretary of State hadn’t a clue about the border.”

Before this motion was passed, Councillor Greene stated he was “depressed” that some councillors were quibbling over money.

“We can spend money left, right and centre, every other way on foreign trips and going here, there and everywhere on conferences,” he said.

“Unless we are proactive, we’d be safer disbanding this whole thing. We’re just talking nonsense to each other.”

However, Councillor Gannon clarified his proposal by saying, “It doesn’t rule out going to Brussels if it was the only way to meet the people that we really needed to talk to.”

Councillor Alex Baird from the UUP added: “Whatever we decide there has to be product out of it.”

After Councillor Gannon’s motion passed – Sinn Féin councillor, Barry McElduff – proposed that the “three northern MEPs come to Council to hear our concerns about Brexit”.

He continued: “This will allow us to have direct engagement with our representatives about their work.

“Then they can hear our views which they, in turn, can convey in Brussels, preferably in a single meeting format.”

This proposal, which was the second motion carried in relation to this issue, was seconded by another Sinn Féin member, Councillor Anthony Feely.

The third motion was proposed by the independent, Councillor Josephine Deehan.

She said: “I understand that people are speaking with passion here this evening and various suggestions have come about.

“However, the impasse we face does not lie with EU – it lies with British Government. Theresa May’s deal was negotiated with EU and it was the only deal on offer.

“The backstop was put in at request of the British Government.

“As such, I personally feel what we really need to do is invite the Brexit Minister, or other senior members from the UK Government, to come here and see for themselves the challenges that people from this community face.”

Councillor Deehan also called Northern Ireland a “special case” which requires extra funding to maintain the economy and peace process”.

She concluded: “My proposal is to seek a delegation from the British Government to come to us – as one of the largest border councils in Northern Ireland – to hear our concerns and seek to have them addressed.”

The proposal was seconded by Councillor Paul Blake from the SDLP before it was carried.