Disrupting city council meetings is the only option left to get “straight answers to straightforward questions” following the “wall of silence” that has greeted allegations that clamps were removed for some councillors without a fine being paid.
This is the view of Independent Cllr Daniel Callanan, who has been accused this week of disrupting Monday’s city council meeting and causing it to be abandoned. However he said this is the only option left open to him as both councillors and City Hall officials have refused to answer his questions concerning the allegations.
On Monday, Cllr Callanan demanded Mayor Padraig Conneely address allegations that he had had a clamp removed from his car and did not have to pay the fine. An argument ensued and councillors voted for Cllr Callanan to leave. He refused and Mayor Conneely adjourned the meeting.
Cllr Callanan yesterday released a statement on the issue “to let people judge for themselves whether or not my recent actions and behaviour have been justified.”
According to Cllr Callanan, on Monday April 14, the allegation against Mayor Conneely was brought to his attention.
“Given the huge controversy that surrounded the introduction and operation of the clamping system in Galway,” said Cllr Callanan, “I felt a strong stand was warranted if it was proved a sitting councillor was being treated differently than other Galway motorists. It subsequently transpired that Cllr Conneely may not have been the only councillor who received favourable treatment.”
Cllr Callanan raised this issue at the April 14 meeting believing that either the councillor himself or officials would immediately clarify what happened.
“It is hard to imagine that three months later, I am still seeking the facts as to why councillors had clamps removed and normal procedures not being followed,” he said. “I have been accused by my colleagues of not raising the matter in a proper manner, that I should have put a question or Notice of Motion on the agenda.
“A Notice of Motion could take up to six months to be reached and the city manager Joe MacGrath has made it clear that he would not deal with such a motion. I was then asked to lodge a complaint with the manager which I did on June 18 and I am still awaiting a response.”
Cllr Callanan said he has met with a “wall of silence” from the councillors concerned and City Hall officials. As a result he felt he was “left with no option but to take a stand which unfortunately has led to disruption of meetings”.
“If I cannot get an answer to such a straightforward question is there any point in me or any other councillor continuing in the present process?” he asked. “I was elected with a clear mandate and part and parcel of that mandate is to get truthful answers to honest questions. This is all I am attempting to do.”
Cllr Callanan said the failure of council officials to answer questions has been raised frequently by councillors Padraig Conneely and Catherine Connolly.
“It is ironic to be attacked by the same councillors for seeking answers in this case,” he said. “Unless answers to straightforward questions are more freely forthcoming, unfortunately we are going to witness further disruption of council business. It would appear this is the only avenue presently open to councillors attempting to get straight answers to straightforward questions. Should the blame rest with those asking the questions or those refusing to answer?”