Rowing councillors like unruly schoolchildren


Rowing councillors like unruly schoolchildren

If big Phil Hogan had dropped by the town hall he’d have enjoyed a wry smile as he concluded that his plan to abolish town councils was surely warranted.

Thursday, 21 February 2013
8:00 AM GMT

An unruly bunch trading angry words, feigning umbrage, affecting outrage and throwing insults around during contrived arguments while other, more circumspect members look on in bemusement. An episode of The Muppet Show? No. It was only the monthly meeting of Fermoy Town Council.

They’re renowned for it. Their reputation for ruaille buaille precedes them. Even so, last Tuesday evening’s proceedings were, for those of us looking on,  more reminiscent of the carry on of The Bash Street Kids of Beano fame than respected members of our local authority.

If big Phil Hogan had dropped by the town hall he’d have enjoyed a wry smile as he concluded that his plan to abolish town councils was surely warranted. Sure they were like turkeys voting for Christmas, the way they were carrying on.

Worse still was the fact that last Tuesday’s night’s heated exchanges were carried out in front of a deputation from the town park committee and other interested individuals who were in the council chamber to hear Cllr Olive Corcoran request funding from the council’s development contribution fund for a new playground for the park.

Indeed it was during that discussion that the more colourful exchanges took place, as Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan baited the hapless councillor and she rose to it, getting increasingly agitated to the point where she accused him of getting it “assways” and “jeopardising” the project.

That all settled down and the meeting proceeded amidst member’s mobile phones going off and calls being taken while it was in progress. Things flared up again a little while later though when Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan must have thought it was all too civilised and decided to interject another argumentive note. He objected to a motion calling for a sign to be erected at the entrance to the town park indicating that dog owners were to keep their animals on leads.

That motion was again – you guessed it – tabled by Cllr Olive Corcoran. This time, he wanted an amendment that all bylaws be put on display. When that was carried he jumped in to say that, as the addendum was carried the motion was lost. He was only short of shouting ‘na na na na na”. Amid plaintive protests from Cllr Corcoran a clearly exasperated Mayor Michael Hanley interceded at that point to bring the meeting to a premature close, with motions left undiscussed and other business pending. Councillors cried foul but he wasn’t for turning.

“But I wanted to talk about a civic reception for the new Bishop”, a disconsolate Cllr Noel McCarthy pleaded as we all got up to leave. “Save it” he was told.

Afterwards, a still annoyed Mayor Michael Hanley remarked, “if ever there’s been a case for the abolition of town council’s, it surely must be very strong in Fermoy’s case. I’m so disillusioned at this stage about the manner in which the meetings are conducted,” he said.

He threatened to resign back in December following a contentious town council budget meeting. At the time he said he was “bitterly disappointed at the behaviour of some members” during heated exchanges about expenditure for the year ahead.

Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan however defended his part in Tuesday night’s proceedings. “It might seem different to others looking in on the proceedings,” he said “but I had serious issues with some matters that were discussed and, as such, felt it was important to have my views heard.”

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