Renua Councillor James Charity has labelled last week’s scenes at the monthly meeting of Galway County Council “utterly disgraceful,” and has called for live online streaming of all future meetings so that the public can view proceedings for themselves.
Proceedings before the new chamber were held up for over two hours due to a dispute over seating arrangements. Essentially, the first three seats were a matter of dispute, with Fianna Fail councillors wishing to occupy them. This was despite the fact that the same seats had been occupied by Sinn Féin since the local elections of 2014.
Councillor Gabe Cronnelly of Sinn Féin also outlined his requirement to occupy seat number one, due to the fact that he has a prosthetic leg and the space provided was necessary for his comfort. Fianna Fáil were prepared to offer the seat to Councillor Cronnelly, provided he sat beside their councillors and was separated in arrangements from his other two party members.
Councillor Charity stated that the Fianna Fáil party should have more respect for the request of one of their council colleagues who has a well known disability. He further queried what leadership Fianna Fáil were offering to those with disabilities when their only compromise was to facilitate an individual by separating him from his colleagues in order to suit themselves. He noted that while a number of male Fianna Fáil councillors arrived early to occupy seats in the chamber as part of a stand off with Sinn Féin, they were not concerned enough about their own two female colleagues who were left completely isolated from their male counterparts in the chamber.
Commenting on the proposal to introduce live streaming of meetings, Councillor Charity said: “This proposal, if carried, will ensure that all future meetings of the council are available for voters and general members of the public to view online live as it happens. This will facilitate such persons in being able to monitor the conduct and performance of their elected representatives in the chamber, and act as a deterrent against a repeat of the ridiculous conduct of the Fianna Fáil party yesterday morning. It is vitally important that transparency and accountability is at the forefront of how our elected members and the council conducts its business, and the establishments parties need to finally realise that the public will not tolerate the politics of the past which they continue to practise.”