Female councillor alleges ‘toxic culture of bullying and misogyny’ after vote to stop her speaking in meeting

A female councillor who was ordered to stop speaking after a vote under standing orders has said her council is home to a “toxic mixture of misogyny and bullying”.

Independent councillor Stephanie Quigley, who was a member of the SDLP until July this year
Independent councillor Stephanie Quigley, who was a member of the SDLP until July this year

Causeway Coast and Glens councillor Stephanie Quigley was banned from speaking during a meeting on Tuesday night, after a vote was taken under standing orders to exclude her from taking part.

The incident that prompted a majority of councillors to vote for the action against the independent councillor happened during a discussion on the accuracy of the minutes from a previous meeting.

At that point in the meeting, Ms Quigley criticised the council’s chief executive David Jackson for “blowing there and perhaps rolling his eyes” as another independent councillor, Padraig McShane, was speaking.

She said: “I think it is disappointing and unprofessional.”

DUP councillor Aaron Callan joined party colleague George Duddy in calling for a point of order that Ms Quigley not be “heard further”.

The proposal was put to a recorded vote and passed with 20 votes in favour, with 16 against and one abstention.

Following the meeting, Ms Quigley said in a statement to the News Letter: “This incident highlights the toxic mixture of misogyny and bullying.

“I am not surprised at all by the attempt to silence me.

“The clash occurred when councillor McShane was trying to clarify gross inaccuracies in the minutes of last month’s meeting.”

She continued: “Due process was ignored and no warning was given to me by the mayor but the vote to silence was pushed through.

“It’s farcical that just recently a motion was passed to set up a working group to support female councillors, yet both DUP woman colleagues and Ulster Unionist councillor Joan Baird voted to silence me too.”

She added: “It is unfortunate that the treacherous undercurrent of bullying and bad behaviour is left unchecked by Causeway Coast and Glens Council.”

Mr McShane also spoke in support of Ms Quigley, saying: “It’s unreasonable for anyone to have to tolerate that type of behaviour but when it’s a female it doubles down on the sense that political arenas remain strongly misogynistic.”

Responding, on behalf of his party, Mr Callan said: “We completely reject any accusation of bullying or misogyny.

“Councillor Quigley was acting very unreasonably, she wasn’t respecting the authority of the mayor, she was speaking over other councillors.

“She was given, I believe, fair warning.

“Councillor Quigley should learn how debate should take place. It’s not a matter of shouting over your opponent.”