Following Councillor Frank Durcan’s actions at the last meeting of Mayo County Council, the Independent representative has been sent a letter from John Condon, County Secretary, asking him to adhere to the councillors’ code of conduct during council meetings.
At the recent monthly meeting, Cllr Durcan approached the county secretary with the Irish Constitution so that he could see the act which related to privacy. Cllr Durcan had been refused information he requested under the Freedom of Information Act relating to money paid to retired senior officials of the council, who were reemployed on a consultancy basis by the council over the past five years.
Cllr Durcan said that the reason he was refused the information was that it was unconstitutional and would break privacy legislation but at the meeting he was not shown where it was inferred in law. The independent councillor also sought this information through the Cathaoirleach, however this was not given as it was personal information of a third party which would undermine the right of privacy by constitution and legislation.
The final way in which the councillor could have obtained this information was through the support of the majority of county councillors, however no one supported him, which according to Cllr Durcan “is an awful indictment” of the sitting county councillors.
Following the meeting, the councillor received a later dated February 9, which said that he was in breach of his responsibilities as a councillor under the code of conduct and was in breach of section seven, which states that councillors should not seek preferential treatment — in Cllr Durcan’s case it related to the Freedom of Information request. Cllr Durcan told the Mayo Advertiser that he was the first councillor to break this section of the code since it came into effect, which he deemed as a “distinct honour” as he was seeking information on how “money was squandered”.
Cllr Durcan said that this “cosy cartel” seemed to be protected by the Constitution and code of conduct and added “democracy can’t function unless transparency, accountability, and honesty” are at play, which he claimed was not happening in Mayo County Council.
The Castlebar councillor said that he may appeal the Freedom of Information Act decision as he can not understand why these figures have not been released which “makes it looks suspect”.
Cllr Durcan added: “I have a mandate to the people I represent. When the day comes I am afraid to ask a question is when I will resign, and I have no intention of doing that.”