An Athlone councillor was forced to back down this week after his proposal of a vote of no confidence in Minister for Defence Alan Shatter was rejected by his fellow councillors.
Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Frankie Keena originally tabled a motion at Monday’s meeting of Westmeath County Council calling on his colleagues to support a request for a deputation to meet with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste over the downgrading of Custume Barracks.
However, he amended the motion to add a proposal that the council pass a vote of no confidence in Minister Shatter “for the way he has treated the Defence Forces in the county”.
“Minister Shatter thinks it was a great day for Athlone for the 4th Western Brigade to be downgraded. He felt the issue was insignificant, and left it to Minister Paul Kehoe to deliver the news. Fine Gael and Labour will be remembered in this town for betraying our Army heritage,” he said.
While there was unanimous support for the original motion from across the political spectrum, there was mixed reaction to the second proposal, with Fine Gael and Labour councillors reluctant to support the vote of no confidence.
“You have to be realistic; your motion has unanimous support, but to add in a political thing, to ask Fine Gael and Labour councillors to support a vote of no confidence, is naive,” said Cllr Fintan Cooney.
Cllr Mick Dollard added his concern; “There is always strength in unity. The message we are trying to get to the public is that Westmeath County Council are not political. We are a joke; people aren’t interested in this. We will be taken more seriously if we stand together, and the original motion is very noble,” he offered.
While Cllr Keena maintained that he wanted the vote of no confidence, arguing that new information over the weekend had indicated that the deputation was “hitting a stone wall” regarding a meeting with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, he agreed to defer the second part of his amended motion over to the July monthly meeting.
“I apologise for putting you in that position, but I am conscious of the timeframe. I will defer part two of the motion until July to give Government party councillors the opportunity to liaise with the powers that be for a meeting before the summer recess,” he concluded.