ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE AT FERMOY TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
There were ructions at Tuesday night’s meeting of Fermoy Town Council as councillors clashed over a motion put forward by Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan calling on the mayor, Cllr Pa O’Driscoll (who was absent as a result of canvassing duties) to resign if he failed to withdraw an earlier proposal in support of the abolition of statutory functions of town councils in relation to housing, planning and roads.
Cllr Michael Hanley chaired the meeting with Cllr O’Driscoll being in the middle of a general election campaign, having given his apologies to the deputy mayor a week before the agenda was published.
Opening the meeting, Cllr Hanley suggested that Cllr O’Donovan defer his motion until such time as the mayor was present and could defend himself. This proposal was quickly shot down by the other councillors, apart from Cllr Olive Corcoran, who said: “politics apart, Pa is a nice young fella and it would be an awful sneaky thing to discuss the motion behind his back.”
Cllr Seamus Coleman said that he had been considering agreeing with what Cllr Corcoran proposed, until she made the comment ‘a sneaky thing to discuss’.
“That put me against her referral. I got this agenda last Thursday. I know I’m not a candidate for this election but I know it’s on the agenda and you still go out of your way to make it if you are implicated in the motion. Obviously he has more pressing things to do so I will be supporting Cllr O’Donovan’s motion,” Cllr Coleman said.
Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan then stated, “When a person, who is seen as being the first citizen and mayor of this town, is advocating that the primary functions of the local authority should be lost I just can’t comprehend it. What I am seeking here is that the individual will withdraw his statement and I am hoping that will happen. I’d be the happiest man in the town if the statement was withdrawn.”
Deputy mayor Cllr Hanley again requested that the motion be deferred saying that everyone is entitled to free speech and it is wrong to discuss this in Cllr O’Driscoll’s absence, as he is not here to defend himself.
“You cannot in this day, thankfully, order someone to quit an organisation because of his views.”
Cllr Aileen Pyne asked if the mayor had written to the town clerk re the notice of motion. She added, “The primary functions of Fermoy Town Council are housing, planning and roads, and our mayor is in favour of taking our functions from us and handing them to a third body, another layer of democracy. He is in favour of this town council and the other 84 town councils in this county to be abolished".
"I just can’t understand how somebody who is the first citizen of this town to have such an opinion. I can’t understand how that person took on the role as mayor and becoming a member of both town and county council.”
PLEADED WITH HIM
Cllr John Murphy concurred and added that the mayor should have, “given more thought to what he said.”
Cllr Noel McCarthy commented that Cllr O’Driscoll put this motion on a joint motion in Cork County Council previously.
“I spoke with him and pleaded with him to withdraw it, as did his own party members. It was withdrawn, thankfully. We are all entitled to our principles and point of view but I felt this when we mentioned it at our special council meeting – Cllr O’Driscoll was elected town councilor and Cork County councillor on the same day. When I found him speaking out about one of the functions that was very dear to us, that’s where we have our disagreement.”
“I don’t like talking about a friend or mayor when he is not here but he holds a position of mayor of Fermoy and how you respect that is what it’s all about. He isn’t showing the respect as mayor of this town by looking for the abolishment of town councils in general.”
Cllr McCarthy said that he took exception to Cllr Corcoran’s remarks of ‘us being sneaky’ and asked, “Is it FF or FG she has after her name because I can’t understand which one it is. Cllr O’Driscoll should take his responsibility as mayor more seriously.”
Deputy mayor, Cllr Hanley responded by saying that it was, “shocking behaviour in the context of almost 1/2 a million people that are unemployed. We are supposed to be doing our best for those who have lost their jobs, and those in appalling circumstances emigrating out of this country. I have never seen or heard anything like what has gone on here this evening.”
The majority vote carried the motion that Cllr O’Driscoll withdraws his statement or resigns as mayor of Fermoy.
In response to the motion Cllr Pa O’Driscoll this week told The Avondhu that for over a year he has maintained the position that local government must be reformed to deliver public services more efficiently.
DUPLICATION ADDING COSTS
”The local government structure was laid down over 100 years ago and has seen little reform since. At the moment there are 11 housing authorities, 11 planning authorities, and 11 roads authorities in Cork alone, the city council, county council and 9 former UDCs. There is duplication in the area of housing as many people looking for housing in Fermoy normally apply to both the town and county council, resulting in two different offices administering two of the same forms for the same town."
"It is duplication that is only adding costs to local government. For planning, it is a county council planner who comes down from county hall to do the planning issues for the town council, which raises the question as to why the town council should have a planning function.”
Cllr O’Driscoll continued to say that he has maintained the view that there needs to be major reform of local government at a town, county and city level.
“I have never heard any of my colleagues give a reason why this should not happen, except that these authorities have always existed so therefore they should continue to exist. That is no longer a credible argument. As a member of both the town council and the county council, I work to reform them".
"If elected to Dail Eireann, I will work to reform it also, not just become part of the cosy consensus that has been partly to blame for the current situation in Ireland. We must be honest with the people and need to be honest with ourselves. Local government is not working well in its current format so let’s not be afraid to change it. We should instead take this opportunity to build a new system that will deliver public services efficiently for the benefit of all.”
“Did the people of Fermoy benefit in any way from the town council meeting on Tuesday night? If they did not, then why are we opposed to creating a better form of government that will have a positive affect on the lives of people?,” Cllr O’Driscoll asked.
Thursday 17th February 5:50pm