Farcical scenes as councillors row over seating arrangements at €450,000 chamber

Thu, May 28, 2015

The new council chamber in County Buildings, Prospect Hill.

It was not a day when our local politicians covered themselves in glory. A debate on where some elected members of the Galway County Council would sit in the newly refurbished council chamber was succinctly summed up by Republican Sinn Féin representative, Tomas O Curraoin, who labelled the whole matter a joke, and likened the behaviour of some councillors to small children. "If kids were in junior infants, they would be arguing about where they were sitting," he said

The impressive new chamber - which cost more than €450,000 - has proved to be extremely controversial, with a number of councillors being highly critical of the cost of the refurbishment. The renovations took place due to the number of county councillors increasing from 30 to 39 in the last local election. The original chamber was not big enough to facilitate this number of people, and health and safety conditions dictated it be increased in size.

But the controversy did not end there, as when the new room was revealed, members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Sinn Féin were unhappy with the seating arrangements. Some councillors believed the two main parties should be sitting opposite each other - which would have been the traditional layout in the old chamber. A proposal was made by Fianna Fáil's Michael Connolly that his party members sit one side towards the top end of the chamber, while Fine Gael's Jimmy McClearn made a proposal on behalf of his party concerning the seating on the opposite side.


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