MOTION TO CENSURE MAYOR AT TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
Sparks flew at last Tuesday’s Fermoy Town Council meeting. Voices were raised, tempers flared, faces flushed, patience ran out and, at the end of it all, no one seemed to gain anything out of the exercise.
The main matter at issue was the manner in which the town Mayor, Tadhg O’Donovan, handled the subject of the Fermoy hotel meeting that was to be convened with the other eight councillors to determine an acceptable date when they could all attend, as requested in a letter from Theresa and Timothy Lawton on August 5.
The letter read, “Dear Mayor O’Donovan, we confirm we have now received draft site layout drawings from our architect in relation to hotel and housing on our site in Fermoy. We would be obliged if you would please communicate with your fellow councilors with a view to arranging a meeting so that same can be discussed.”
Mayor Tadhg O’Donovan did not, it is alleged, contact any of the councillors to determine the acceptable date or, indeed, respond to any of the letters he was furnished with by five of his fellow councilors requesting a special meeting. However, it appears that the mayor called a special meeting with the Lawtons himself for September 22, when three of the nine councillors can’t attend.
“A special meeting of the council may be convened at any time by the mayor or if the office of mayor is vacant or the mayor is unable to act, by the deputy mayor, or by the mayor on foot of a request in writing presented to him or her by any five members.
" Where the mayor refuses or neglects to act on foot of a request within 7 days of it being presented to him/her, the members making the request may convene a meeting. The provisions of paragraph 6 of Sch. 10 apply in relation to calling of such meeting,” reads Standing Order 4.
It was very much a stand off situation between the mayor and Cllr Michael Hanley, as the latter, armed with the letter from the hotel developers and standing order 4, asked for standing orders to be suspended and that the councilors convene on date for the meeting in question.
What ensued was a fierce verbal joust in which the mayor claimed over and over again not to understand the reason the councillors wanted the standing orders suspended and that he required Cllr. Hanley to specifically indicate the reason, although the named councillor clearly stated several times, “You have been in breach of standing orders in your failure to communicate with us.”
Cllr. Hanley also later proposed a motion that the provisions of paragraph 6 and schedule 10 in relation to calling a special meeting be included in the text of the Standing Order No 4, as there is no mention of them in the stated order.
That was not the only altercation between Mayor O’Donovan and the councillors. A motion proposed by Cllr. Peter Merrigan infuriated the mayor so much, that he completely lost his temper and the unpleasant situation escalated from bad to worse into a shouting match.
The mayor questioned the legality of the motion which stated, “That this council moves that in view of the willful failure of the mayor to exercise his civic duty to respond to the request by Mr. and Mrs. Lawton to convene a meeting of the council in order to arrange a suitable date to meet with the Lawton’s and debate the latest proposals for the hotel, this council moves that he be censured for his conduct.”
Reflecting on the council meeting and the hotel meeting that is in limbo Cllr. Michael Hanley subsequently said, “I’ve often wondered at what depth the council is prepared to sink to in terms of the way it deals with this issue. We reached a new low at the town council this week. I offered Tadhg my full support while in the chair. Whatever has occurred between his election in June to present time mystifies me completely.
"Putting this at the simplest, this is a most serious issue and I am mystified with what the agenda might be. It has emerged that perhaps the real reason why we are being entertained to this procrastination in dealing with such an important item is that the majority of the five have been actively seeking the establishment of a hotel on the Cork Road side of the town. To say that I am disappointed , would be putting it mildly,” Cllr. Hanley concluded.
Thursday 18th September 7:24pm