The row over the potential imposition of on-street parking charges in Westport moved up another notch again this week.
A special meeting to discuss the issue was slated to take place on Monday in Claremorris before the full monthly meeting of the council was due to take place.
However that meeting was postponed late on Friday evening - due to the unavailability of one of the members of the West Mayo Municipal District to attend the special meeting.
At the full meeting of the council on Monday, two members from the West Mayo Municipal District questioned why the special meeting had been postponed.
Independent Cllr Christy Hyland opened the debate stating he felt the issue of the withholding of the General Municipal Allocation (GMA ) funding for the West Mayo Municipal District was being used as a tactic to approve the councils plans to implement parking charges in Westport and that as such he felt, "threatened" to approve these plans.
The GMA is used by elected councillors to give money to local sporting clubs, organisations and events in their local area.
Cllr Hyland told the meeting that: “I now, and in the future, will make no decision on any matter relating to this council while I feel I am under duress. I’m under duress.
"I feel, because there has been a threat made, that the GMA funding will not be paid until we resolve an issue over in West Mayo Municipal District regarding new proposals, regulations of transport and parking charges.”
He went on to add that as far as he was concerned “We agreed a budget. The GMA had nothing to do with the budget. My proposal is we will pay the GMA in each district and every other proposal that has to be resolved will be resolved in a cool, calm, clear way with no threats to anyone. I do not take actions or decisions when I feel threatened. I don’t like feeling threatened and I do feel threatened”
Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Richard Finn said that this issue was for the West Mayo Municipal District councillors to sort out amongst themselves and he wasn't going to discuss he added: “I’ve no proposal not to pay it at all. I’m asking you to live up to the responsibility that you are elected to do and stand up and be counted and represent the people because that is your responsibility.
"It is not my responsibility to go down to your town and tell you what to do"
Fianna Fáil Westport based Cllr Brendan Mulroy said that he found it highly unusual that a meeting would be called off because one councillor was not able to attend. He queried whether this would become a regular occurrence, because if so he felt there might not be a meeting held for a year.
He went on to offer his own suggestion as to why the meeting was postponed saying "It would lead you to believe that the votes were counted and the theory done on it and the meeting was canceled for one person, who I believe had no difficulty with the meeting going ahead. Cllr Holmes (Cathaoirleach of the West Mayo Municipal District ) was out of the country, so he had to be contacted by an official to say that there was one person who was not available for the meeting. Now once you have a quorum in any format, in my 20 years of politics, I don't think I have seen a meeting canceled for one person, once the notices have gone out. We probably would have solved that situation this morning if we had that meeting."
Cllr Michael Holmestold the meeting he had just got off a flight on Friday evening last in Dublin Airport and was contacted by the council to say that a councillor or councillors were not able to make the meeting and would it make sense to adjourn it to another time.
He went on to say that he was unaware that a vote on the issue was scheduled to take place and that: "I have been accused of being involved in a plan, that I had nothing to do with good, bad or indifferent, I wasn't told anything about a plan, but I was accused of being involved in a plan and I want to categorically say that I had zero to do with any plan. It won’t end at that now because when you are accused of something like that, it is fairly serious."
He went on to say that if their is somebody missing in future from a meeting on this important issue he will propose to postpone it again, no matter who is missing: “I will be prepared to have the meeting any time of the day or any time of the night, any day of the week. I’ll make myself available to chair that meeting. It was deferred because it is an important meeting. I have no problem with that, I didn’t suggest it be deferred and I knew absolutely nothing, even though I was accused of colluding with a plan, to have it deferred."
Cllr Mulroy tried to interject and speak on the issue again, but Cllr Finn refused to take his question and moved the meeting on to other items on the agenda.