A proposal which drew even numbers at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s full January meeting, has fallen after the Chair used their casting vote.

Members were discussing a two -pronged proposal put forward by Independent Councillor Emmet McAleer, relating to involved procedural issues for council meetings.

These involved matters heard under confidential business which do not qualify as such and the acceptance or refusal of correspondence or submissions to be added to agendas.

Referring to correspondence around fracking and mining in the council district area, Councillor McAleer told members: “It’s massively important and of keen interest to the local population and the LDP (Local Development Plan) fiasco has highlighted that. We need to be seen to be open and transparent and it’s vitally important such matters are discussed under open business.”

This was seconded by Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh, Independent however both unionist Group leaders were firmly opposed.

The matter went to a vote which drew level with 19 members voting for and against, leading Chair Diana Armstrong to state: “This invokes the casting vote and I am voting against, so the proposal falls.”

Speaking after the meeting Councillor McAleer confirmed his intention to ‘call-in’ the vote, at the next main meeting.

He said: “After highlighting my concerns, citing a previous example where this happened at a December meeting around the LDP, I raised a proposal that council would in future discuss all correspondence from fracking or mining lobbyists in public business, in open and transparent manner.

“Unbelievably this proposal was opposed by the SDLP, and both unionist parties. I'm absolutely shocked and further appalled by those establishment parties who opposed this, some of whom actually claim to oppose fracking? I look forward to hearing the logic they used when making their decision.

“It was also interesting to note that when questioned by Sinn Fein Councillor Sheamus Greene as to what the Council procedure was now, when dealing with such matters, that it would be business as usual and at the discretion of whoever draws up the agenda.

“This decision will no doubt draw further criticism from our residents, who have lost so much faith in the council given recent happenings.

“I plan to call this decision in at the February Meeting, and hope that those Councillors who opposed will have had time to reflect and rectify that decision at that stage.”