Rubbish remark sparks walkout at Fermoy Town Council meeting
A remark made by mayor Olive Corcoran during a heated exchange in the Fermoy Town Council Chamber on Tuesday evening, led to Cllr Noel McCarthy walking out.
At the outset of their monthly meeting, Cllr McCarthy raised the matter of ramps being installed on either side of Adair National School to curb speeding motorists. A petition was signed by 30 parents seeking to have ramps installed. Cllr McCarthy pointed out that, as well as the primary school which has 40 pupils, there are two pre-schools in the area so it was 'a pressing safety concern'.
He'd raised the matter previously at the local area meeting of the county council in July, which a deputation from the school's board of management and parents' association attended. Following on from that he'd been informed by the area engineer that it was a matter for the town council and not the county council and he was advised to take the matter up with them instead, which is was what he was trying to do.
Cllr Tadhg O'Donovan took exception to the manner in which the matter was being dealt with under standing orders when they began discussing it. He proposed standing orders be suspended to allow them to deal with the matter. That proposal was seconded by Cllr McCarthy who said he hadn't had sufficient time to table a motion on it for the meeting.
Cllr Noel Barnes felt the town engineer John O'Leary should look and see if there was a health and safety issue there. The engineer agreed to inspect the area with Cllr McCarthy. Town clerk, Pauline Moriarty, reiterated that the matter would be investigated and they'd report back to the meeting. Cllr McCarthy said however, that time was of the essence, that the deputation were led to believe at the area meeting in July that ramps would be installed before the children returned to school in September and were most disappointed it hadn't been done. A time frame in which the works would be done is needed, he pressed. He also pointed out that there's no signage to indicate there's a school there.
Cllr Seamus Coleman described it as 'a no brainer' but said it was the first the town council had heard about the matter - it was raised previously at an area meeting of the county council and not any meeting of theirs. "So if the parents' association are under the impression it was granted here, it wasn't," he said.
The mayor said she wasn't happy being asked to decide on something they had little information about.
Cllr John Murphy said local residents should be informed about the request for ramps while Cllr Colette Dolan-Moore agreed that there should be consultation with them first. He proposed an amendment to Cllr McCarthy's proposal to that effect.
The protracted wrangling which followed was described by Cllr Michael Hanley as 'absurd'. He'd stated his belief that the matter should have come before the traffic management sub committee. The intention was good, he said, but the structure, how Cllr McCarthy went about raising the matter, was 'backwards'.
There appeared to be a move towards agreement at that point with Cllr McCarthy told, that if the engineer felt there was a need for ramps, they would be installed. Cllr McCarthy accepted that but said he wanted it to be acted upon immediately.
Mayor Corcoran then made her declaration saying 'this is nothing but rubbish'. Cllr McCarthy took umbrage, calling on her repeatedly to withdraw the remark and saying he'd leave if she didn't. She refused to, telling him he was 'playing to the gallery'. Cllr McCarthy said she'd insulted him and he wasn't staying to be insulted.
"I never insulted the chair, ever, in my time here," he told her. "You're only looking for political coverage," she retorted. As Cllr McCarthy left the meeting, the mayor accused Cllr Tadhg O'Donovan of purposely hijacking the meeting. The matter was withdrawn.
The Mayor stressed afterwards that, in making the 'rubbish' remark, her criticism was directed at the manner in which the issue was raised and discussed and not the issue itself, saying she was anxious that it would not be 'wrongly construed'.
Cllr McCarthy said that he regretted having to leave the meeting as it was an important issue and he had hoped to make progress on it. Now it would have to wait. He felt he had no option but to leave as it was his belief that in making the 'rubbish' remark, the mayor was talking about the issue itself, not the manner in which it was debated.
He also said that while he was hurt by the remark, he'd be happy to hear from the Mayor and if she saw her way to withdrawing it, he would be satisfied to leave it at that.
"My biggest concern is the safety of the children of Adair National School and the local pre-schools," he concluded.
Thursday 19th September 7:37pm