A proposal for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to write to King Charles offering congratulations on his accession to the throne has been defeated by a majority of one, during a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee.
The issue was raised as members were advised of the additional public holiday on 8 May to mark the King’s coronation.
Ulster Unionist Councillor Matthew Bell welcomed the forward planning and proposed council: “Write to His Majesty King Charles III in mid or late April and congratulate him on his coronation and offer the council’s support as our Head of State.”
This was seconded by party colleague Councillor Roy Crawford, however Independent member Councillor Emmet McAleer said: “I don’t think it’s fitting for a council to be congratulating someone for what is an accident at birth, so I will dissent.”
Councillor Tommy Maguire, Sinn Fein recorded dissent on behalf of his party as: “We wish no ill-will, but we certainly don’t wish to be congratulating to such a position and we do not recognise that authority.”
Also voicing dissent, Independent Councillor Bernice Swift said: “I would go further than the two speakers before me. I don’t think this is appropriate whatsoever.”
She called for the matter to go to a vote as: “More than dissenting, I will be voting against.”
Committee Chair Councillor Errol Thompson agreed a vote was required given the emerging dissent.
Councillor Mary Garrity SDLP said the issue was becoming controversial and: “I have agreed to may letters being sent by this council that I really haven’t wholeheartedly endorsed, but in the sentiment of peace I went along with them. However I would have reservations over the proposed letter to King Charles to be held off until April. None of us know where we’ll be in April, if it’s a sentiment of congratulations and well-wishing, I think it’s something that should be done at the time. Nobody knows where King Charles will be in April, or where I’ll be. I therefore find that strange. Voting for a letter to go out in April should be proposed in April.”
In response Councillor Bell told members: “I felt it was timely to bring this (proposal) now along with the other plans for the coronation. If something unfortunate does happen to King Charles, I’m sure the council could bring a rescinding motion to stop the letter being sent. Or if something horrible does happen to King Charles in another way then presumably the coronation will be cancelled anyway.”
Having gone to a vote the proposal was defeated 17-16