Newry City SDLP Councillor Michael Savage was cut off from speaking during an online meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Councils SP&R meeting. Councillor Savage who was trying to get his point across regarding costings and “feet on the ground” for the Albert Basin Park had his conversation ended without warning.
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Savage said:
“I am very disappointed that Cllr Hanlon cut me off in the manner in which she did. I am fully supportive of the PHA using the Albert Basin and have stated this on many occasions as it is vital that we have a testing site locally during this public health emergency but I never got the chance to support the proposal as I was cut off in mid speech for some reason.
“The questions I was asking are very relevant to the potential length of time that the PHA may need the site or a site for testing in the future. The Pandemic is still very much with us with numbers on the rise again as winter approaches we may be faced with further variants and lockdowns so the need for updates as to when we are likely to be able to move on to The Albert Basin to develop the Park and have boots on the ground was and is very relevant to the discussion that we were having on that agenda item.
“While I acknowledge the short term request would not interfere with the Park scheme as it is still at desk development stage, I believe it was only right to seek clarity on the timeline of when we would be moving beyond that stage to a boots on the ground stage given that Council has supported my proposal to construct Phase One of the Park within this Council term. The information I was seeking an update on will shape that timeline and this would obviously have an impact on the availability of the Albert Basin to the PHA going forward and as a result I believe it to be a very relevant question given what we were discussing on the agenda.
“Nothing I referred to was not already discussed in open forum so I am at a loss as to why my comments were cut short. I am a strong advocate for the Park and I feel it is my duty to ensure that any decision on the short term use of the site that is earmarked for the Park is based on the availability of as much information as possible.”