Council defers webcasting of city meetings

Members of the Galway City Council this week deferred the idea of broadcasting their monthly council meetings for the public at large to view because they said the cost is too high and the time is not right.

The €30,000 project that would see the monthly city council meetings broadcast live on the internet was put on hold this week after council members voiced their concerns over whether the cost of such a venture could be afforded at this time.

A number of councillors, including Independent Daniel Callanan, Labour’s Colette Connolly, and Progressive Democrats’ Declan McDonnell, admitted they believed the project was too costly to be considered at this time, while Fianna Fail councillor Mary Leahy did not believe there was anything worth broadcasting within the chamber.

Independent councillor Catherine Connolly came back by strongly displaying her pride in the works done during the city council meetings, claiming the council should be ashamed that the public gallery, which was lobbied for by the people of Galway city, is not full during every meeting. She emphasised that the meetings, which begin at 4pm do not support most of the working public’s schedules and therefore the option to view the council meetings at a later time online is a very viable idea.

Green Party councillor Niall O’Brolchain, who has long been the primary supporter of the idea, went on to point out that the full amount of the cost for the project could be funded from outside the council, and claimed the council was displaying a “lack of progressive thought” in deferring the idea for a later time.

After city officials made the point that the online broadcasting of council meetings has been very successful in other areas of the country, the council took a vote with 10 councillors voting to defer the concept until a later date, possibly when the funds are available to make it plausible.

The council, however, did not completely shy away from all things technical. Members did agree on the establishment of a new extranet facility for council members and officials to help reduce the amount of paper distributed within City Hall and to allow member to access their council files from any computer at any time. Though strongly favoured by some, such as Cllr O’Brolchain and Cllr John Connolly, and strongly disregarded by others, such as Cllr Catherine Connolly and Mayor Conneely, it was eventually agreed that the free facility, which will now allow councillors and officials to bring laptops into city council meetings, would be set up for those who wished to take advantage of its environmental and financial benefits.


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