FERMOY FURORE OVER TOWN COUNCIL HOUSING FUNCTION
There were angry scenes at Tuesday night’s Fermoy Town Council meeting, as, Fermoy mayor, Cllr Pa O’Driscoll, who announced that he would not be supporting Cllr Aileen Pyne’s motion to oppose the Government’s plans to strip town councils of their housing powers, was asked to consider resigning. Cllr Pyne opened the discussion by saying that town councils were being stripped of their housing powers.
“They are removing the housing function from town councils and county councils and they intend setting up regional housing authorities. I believe this is a wrong step and I feel that small is beautiful and as town councillors we can make representation for our people regarding their housing needs.
"To remove the housing functions from town councils or county councils and to put it into a regional council situation is like the move of the health boards to the HSE. It’s a detrimental step and I am proposing that we write to the Minister for Housing, Michael Finneran and indicate that situation to him.”
SHAME & DISGRACE
Cllr John Murphy agreed with Cllr Pyne and added that every year there is some power taken away from the town council.
“I agree with the mayor that town councils do need to reform. It would be a shame and a disgrace if the ordinary people on the streets didn’t have elected members to look after their needs.”
Cllr Noel McCarthy agreed and added that it is another hit at town and county councils.
“When you make a representation for someone that comes to you for housing, you are doing it because you know them, their families and their genuine need for housing. With this housing authority you will only be a number.”
Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan added that, down through the years, power has gradually slipped away from town councils.
“The Government are supporting this, FG and Labour are supporting this. The reality is that, as town councillors, or as local government representatives, we don’t stand for what we believe in. We must start making our presence felt as councillors, because ultimately the TDs are dependant on us whether they like it or not. They realise that we have no influence at the moment, they realise that we are willing to accept this.
"So, not alone should we be writing to the minister, but I think we should be writing to each of the political parties expressing our disquiet at their support for these measures.”
Cllr Olive Corcoran said that she does not believe that any politician, TD, minister of town councillor should come in and push somebody up the housing list, using the excuse of need.
“There are criteria there, they should be set in stone and left there. Grand if the politicians want to keep an eye on what is happening with the housing list but things should be done fairly, and not because somebody is a friend of a particular politician. I do think that certain areas should be left to the executive because it actually harms the good name of local councillors when things are done that are not right. I think that housing lists should be made public so that nothing untoward can be done.”
4 DIFFERENT CLAIMS
Cllr Colette Dolan Moore supported Cllr Pyne’s motion and added that local councillors have no authority and can only make representations.
“One woman in an estate told me that 4 of them came to my house from 4 different parties and each claimed to have got me the house.”
Cllr Corcoran told The Avondhu that Cllr O’Driscoll is entitled to his opinion, and that he is making an honest attempt to clean up politics.
“Fermoy Town Council doesn’t want to change. All I want is to see honesty in these areas.”
Councillors were left baffled as the mayor; Cllr Pa O’Driscoll stated that he would not be supporting Cllr Pyne’s motion to write to the minister.
“I don’t think that there should be 11 housing authorities, 11 planning authorities and 11 roads authorities in Cork county, it just makes no sense to me. If we want real local government, it’s not about shouting down reforms.
"However, previous initiatives to reform it, to make it stronger, give more powers and make it more efficient were blocked time and time again by political parties. So, no, I don’t agree with writing to the minister on this.”
Cllr O’Donovan was enraged by the mayor’s comments and immediately asked for clarification saying, “So, basically you are saying that housing functions should be taken away from Fermoy Town Council.”
To which the mayor replied, “Yes”.
Cllr O’Donovan responded by saying that he felt that Cllr O’Driscoll shouldn’t be a member and mayor of the local authority and he couldn’t comprehend it.
“You should consider resignation if you believe strong enough about your beliefs on this.” Cllr McCarthy told The Avondhu that he was disappointed and shocked by the mayor’s comment.
“As a friend and colleague, I am disappointed with the comment that the mayor made. I am only hoping that he will withdraw his statement.”
NO INTENTION OF WITHDRAWING
Cllr O’Driscoll spoke with The Avondhu and said that he had no intention of withdrawing any statement he had made.
“Town councils exist because they were set up 100 years ago by the British. Ireland has changed massively since then and local government does not reflect that change. There is no reason why Fermoy Town Council, that covers a fraction of the town, should have its own housing authority when Mitchelstown which is bigger doesn’t. Local government needs to undergo a huge amount of reform and I have said this time and time again. I cannot understand why my fellow councillors were surprised at my response.”
Cllr O’Donovan told The Avondhu that he hoped that the mayor would reconsider his statement and withdraw it or he would have no option but to put forward a motion to relinquish his standing as mayor and town councillor.
The Avondhu spoke with Cllr Aileen Pyne, following the meeting and she said she couldn’t believe the statement made by the mayor.
“For somebody involved in the town and county council who is prepared to give away functions to a third party which could be based anywhere - I just can’t believe it. If he feels so strongly why is he involved in local politics?”
Thursday 20th January 5:30pm