Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) has said it is exploring the option of video recording and live streaming Council meetings.

It comes in response to a number of questions from The Impartial Reporter regarding recent audio issues that have seen the failure of two meetings this month to be recorded in the Townhall, Enniskillen.

A Council spokesperson said they were exploring the option but a final decision will be dependant on costs and Council agreement.

On July 2, the monthly full Council meeting held in Enniskillen was hit with a technical problem which affected the system which controls the Councillors microphones and audio recording.

This technical problem delayed the start of the meeting as the system temporarily lost connectivity and required a full reboot which took some time.

The Chair made the decision to commence the meeting before the re-boot had been fully completed and hence there were some ongoing problems throughout the meeting.

On July 10, 2019 a separate issue arose with the SD recording card within the system which did not function correctly.

The Council installed a new upgraded computer last Friday, July 19.

Cross-Community Labour Alternative Councillor, Donal O’Cofaigh has been an advocate for live streaming of Council meetings and had made the proposal to look into broadcasting the meetings.

“It’s very important that the Council is proactive in bringing forward anything that might increase awareness and transparency around its decision making process,” said Councillor O’Cofaigh.

“There’s a real desire from many in the community to find out what is happening and what is being said by those who are elected to the Council.

“In the last two weeks I have raised this issue in the Council and I have been offered assurances that the Council staff are going to come back with a view to letting us know how reasonable it is to have this and what additional costs would be associated with it but I can’t imagine it would be huge.

“Live streaming is ongoing at the moment in Belfast City and Derry City and Strabane Councils and I don’t see why Fermanagh and Omagh should not be able to provide this as well.

“I think there will be absolute certainty among the public they are seeing everything that is being said in the public arena.”

At the minute, recording of Council meetings is not allowed to be recorded by anybody other than the Council to ensure a bona fide record of the meeting is made publicly available.

These recordings are uploaded to the Council website within two days of the meeting taking place.

To try and avoid failures in recording meetings in the future, additional checks will be undertaken by Council Officers to check in advance of a meeting that such a malfunction is detected and corrected.

In addition, a backup recording media (SD Card) will also be on standby as an additional precautionary measure.