More farcical scenes at latest Galway City Council meeting

Farcical scenes erupted for the second Galway City Council meeting in succession this week as Councillor Padraig Conneely continued his campaign for retribution against Councillor Michael Crowe.

Last month Crowe was caught out after sending an email to a colleague which referred to Mr Conneely as a "scumbag".

Business was progressing as normal at Monday's meeting until Mr Conneely erupted in anger regarding the incident.

Conneely said: "The comments directed at me by a person in this room were the lowest of the lowest of the low. It was an outrageous, unwarranted, attack on my good reputation. I tell you, Councillor Crowe, that those comments did damage to my reputation. I have suffered greatly in my standing in this city. I have been castigated at private functions as a result of this. I am not a scumbag in the eyes of anybody." 

Conneely said he had requested that Crowe withdraw the remark and issue him with a public apology, and was incensed that these requirements had not been carried out in full. He continued to press chief executive Brendan McGrath on whether or not the council's code of conduct allowed for sanctions of any kind to be placed against Councillor Crowe.

McGrath, among others, was unwilling to aid Conneely in his digging up of old issues. When it became clear Conneely was not prepared to drop his complaint, the chief executive responded: "In all of my dealings with councillors, everyone has an obligation to respect protocols and conventions. I have no control over what councillors say. It is up to us to use appropriate language in our dealings. I will always respect councillors and I hope that they will do the same. The use of language of that kind is wrong."

Not satisfied with this, Conneely responded: "I notice you did not condemn the councillor's use of the word scumbag. If you do not want to condemn it you do not have to, but it is the worst comment I have ever heard in all my years in public life. I am very disappointed with Councillor Crowe, who I have known for a long time. The damage has been done now. The issue has been raised at several public events I have been at, and it is unacceptable."

In response to Conneely's comments, Councillor Crowe addressed the chamber: "I find it hard to believe that this issue has been brought up again. I would like to point out that the remark we are talking about was not made in public. I have withdrawn the remark and apologised.

"The minutes of our last meeting reflect that. I am at a loss as to what else I can do. For the record, I respect the democratic outcome of meetings and the views of members from around this table, and I will act accordingly. I hope the issue is left at that now."

Crowe could not resist issuing Conneely with a parting shot before he left the issue, saying: "Let he who is in a glass house be wary of throwing stones."

With that the issue went to a vote of the chamber regarding how to move forward. A show of hands revealed that 11 people were in favour of Crowe issuing a public apology, three councillors were against, and three declined to vote.

Conneely, despite having his concerns satisfied by the vote, remained agrieved that it was not more resounding, and that he had not received more support on the issue. He finished his tirade by claiming that the silence around the chamber table was "deafening" and that he felt the matter had been handled "disgracefully". 

Mayor Frank Fahy called for order numerous times throughout the disruption, which lasted around five minutes, and asked his fellow councillors to have some respect for what was his first night in the chair, threatening to suspend the meeting if order was not restored. 

Councillor Catherine Connolly began to pack up her belongings and appeared to be heading for the door, moments before the councillors regained their composure. On a point of order, she told Councillor Conneely that she found it ironic that he was asking for respect and decorum in the chamber when he himself had behaved so badly in the manner in which he dealt with the situation. 

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