The political events and the economic fallout from the past few months have led to a situation where the general public is now less accepting of any posturing or gombeenism. They have all been through the mill financially at the start of this new year and there is no appetite for the sort of political games that might have taken place in more affluent times. The only thing that the public want of their politicians now is that they go in, do their job, be as respectful and accommodating as possible and that in return the public servants work with them to ensure the services that we all need are provided to the highest standard.
Not for the first time, this is not the case with the Galway City Council. The chamber has long been lampooned as a gathering of dysfunction, where histrionics and walkouts are the order of the day. Not a term goes by without some incident which illustrates that this group of people are unable to work together for the betterment of the city.
While the unruly behaviour is limited to a section of the Council, all councillors stand culpable by lacking the gumption to stand up to the intimidation, the bullying, the harassment and to ensure that the right thing is done. There is no point bleating about the absence of civility and basic rights for the general public if such rights are not being exercised in the Council chamber.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of this latest situation involving Cllr Padraig Conneely and the city council officials, there is no doubt that this childish behaviour is further enhancing the reputation of Galway City Council as a body of councillors that is more interested in narrow egotistical victories rather than for the good of the city.
How many times in the past decade have meetings been disrupted by issues which go far and beyond the cut and thrust of normal debate. And remember the cut and thrust of normal political debate are not acceptable when it comes to dealing with employees who are merely doing their jobs and who are entitled under law to the protection of health and safety legislation which should prohibit workplace bullying, harassment,and raised voices.
What is required is for an acceptable mediator to be appointed to this standoff and each side should be asked to drop its top demand as an act of goodwill to getting it sorted.
There is no doubt that matters of pride and respect and face-saving are to the fore in this issue, but the people of Galway are truly fed up of these events. The next meeting of the gathering should not take place until this has been sorted out, so that we don’t incur enormous expense at wasted meetings, bringing in experts for presentations that don’t take place. This wasted money would be better off fixing the council houses, the playgrounds and the public services, So to all councillors we say, where’s your backbone, stand up for the people you represent and don’t be a silent spectator to this farce. Let’s end this once and for all.
Declan Varley [email protected]