Development plan vote decided by Cathaoirleach's casting vote

Cathaoirleach Michael Smyth had the casting vote on pushing out the process of the county development plan at the council's July meeting. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

Cathaoirleach Michael Smyth had the casting vote on pushing out the process of the county development plan at the council's July meeting. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

It took almost a quarter-of-an-hour and the casting vote of the new Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Michael Smyth to pass a vote at the council's July meeting which was held remotely this week.

The councillors were voting on whether to extend the time frame for the upcoming County Development Plan or to press ahead with the already set out time frames.

Fianna Fáil through their whip Cllr Damien Ryan had proposed that the time frames be pushed out for a further six months, while Fine Gael Cllr Peter Flynn had proposed that the existing timeframes be stuck to for the new development plan.

When it came to voting on the issue, the councillors were voting on either supporting or not supporting Cllr Flynn's proposal - which turned out into a drawn out affair, with one vital vote coming in at the end to send the decision on the outcome of the vote back to the Cathaoirleach of the council.

When the initial votes were taken it stood at 14 in favour of Cllr Flynn's proposal to press ahead with the plan and 13 against. The Fine Gael bloc along with Independent Cllr Christy Hyland and Sinn Féin Cllr Gerry Murray had voted in favour.

Voting against it were the Fianna Fáil bloc and Independent councillors Michael Kilcoyne, Seamus Weir, Richard Finn and Mark Duffy. Absent from when the vote call were Fianna Fáil Cllr Paul McNamara and his part colleague Cllr John Caulfield and independent Cllr John O'Malley.

Council officials follow a procedure where if a councillor is not present on the vote taken during the initial roll call, they try to contact the councillors by phone to get their vote.

Cllr Caulfield had been noted as absent, but councillors including Cllr Damien Ryan and Cllr Kilcoyne said they saw him trying to join into the meeting online and he made contact with Cllr Annie May Reape by phone and another attempt was made by council officials to get Cllr Caulfield on the phone which they succeeded in doing almost 15 minutes after the vote had started and his vote against the motion tied it at 14-14, sending the decision back to the Cathaoirleach Cllr Smyth who as he did in the initial vote, voted against the motion.

 

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