A debate on the new Causeway International Airshow 2022 got very heated when a Sinn Fein Councillor described it as being ‘like a military fest’, leading to a DUP Councillor telling him he ‘needs to take his green glasses off’.
Subsequently, a second Sinn Fein Councillor referred to a DUP councillor as a ‘fool’, resulting in her not being allowed to continue speaking.
Members of Causeway Coast & Glens Leisure and Development Committee were discussing new dates for the event and a proposed change to the flight path when the Benbradagh Councillor Dermot Nicholl raised his opposition to the airshow, which was being developed as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the Borough.
Councillor Nicholl said: “To start with, I am galled that the Director let a report come before us tonight in relation to this event.
“People may want to celebrate the Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth. At the end of the day, she’s not my Queen.
“I know talking to people who have been at previous events like this how disappointed they were, it’s like a military fest, rubbing their noses in it, and that’s from both sides of the community.
“I don’t see why people in our council area should be stumping up for this. It really pains me. When are people going to wise up. This is nothing to celebrate.”
Bann Councillor Adrian McQuillan said he had ‘never heard the likes of this.’
“Councillor Nicholl needs to take off his green tinted glasses,” he said. “We have heard this event can bring an extra £2.5 million into the borough, and all Councillor Nicholl can do is miscall it and do all he can against it.
“It’s very simple; it’s because the army is involved in it. His party, Sinn Fein, supported the IRA through 40 years of violence.
“Now the armed forces are here on a different level showing what they can do in other countries and how they won the so-called war here.
“Sinn Féin couldn’t beat them the last time, but they’re trying to beat them this time by keeping them out of the area.
“He talks about not his Queen, where does he think he lives? I think he lives around Eglinton or Greysteele, and as far as I heard, it’s a part of the UK and part of Northern Ireland. So whether he likes to admit it or not, that’s where he lives, the UK.
“I see two other speakers coming after me, Councillors Bateson and McShane, they are exactly the same, they live in Kilrea and Ballycastle, and that’s part of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, so I’ll be taking no lectures from them regarding the air show or anything else.”
Councillor Cara McShane opened her comments saying: “You never lower yourself to debate with a fool, because they only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience, so I’ll move on from those previous comments.”
Councillor McQuillan called a point of order 18.12, stating that Members may object to comments they feel to be inaccurate.
“She called me a fool. I feel that’s inaccurate and I want an apology for it,” he said.
Glens Councillor McShane continued to speak before a point of order was called again.
“Chair, there’s remarks made about myself, Councillor Bateson and my colleague Councillor Nicholl by that councillor just moments before,” said Councillor McShane, to which Councillor McQuillan responded; “Turn her off.”
As Councillor McShane began speaking again another point of order was called by DUP Alderman George Duddy who said: “Chair, 18.12 is quite explicit. Whether Councillor McShane wants to admit it or not, calling somebody a fool is not nice.
“Councillor McShane is renowned for making comments, should it be ageist or in this regard calling someone a fool. She should apologise to Councillor McQuillan and also to the general public.
“Councillor McQuillan is quite entitled under 18.12 to ask for that apology, and if it’s not forthcoming, you have to take whatever action you deem necessary in regards to the comments being made.
“It is not acceptable for anybody in this Chamber to call anybody a fool. Most definitely not. To be fair, the member is out of order. Councillor McShane has used offensive expression.”
The Glens councillor then attempted to say she hadn’t called anyone a fool before Alderman Duddy stated: “The recording will show quite clearly that Councillor McShane referred to Councillor McQuillan as a fool.”
Councillor McShane added that she ‘felt sorry’ for Councillor McQuillan and Alderman Duddy, which was followed by a period of silence.
Committee Chair Councillor John McAuley asked Councillor McShane if she was willing to retract her original statement to move matters forward. However, she refused.