The main message from last week’s special meeting of Mayo County Council to discuss the implications of the potential job cuts in Mayo County Council was lost in a war of words and point scoring by the local politicians inside the chamber. At the outset of the meeting, county manager Peter Hynes told the members that there will be no enforced redundancies in the council and that they will be dealing with the issue within the confines of the Croke Park agreement. He did express his regret that the issue became public knowledge through the media and informed that meeting that no member of the council executive was involved in leaking the information. He said the council “will not be discussing the proposals in public with a megaphone”.
Fine Gael whip, Cllr Joe Mellett, hit out at the 10 members who signed the request for the special meeting, calling them “the 10 apostles” and saying that there was no reason for the special meeting to be called as it could have been discussed at the next monthly meeting of the council. He also told the meeting that, “six of the 10 signatures are from the Fianna Fáil party who sold us down the Swanee and sold our sovereignty”. Fianna Fáil councillor Annie May Reape hit back, telling Cllr Mellett: “It is our entitlement to call a special meeting, your party called one not too long ago so one of your members could get a vote in the Seanad election.”
Cllr Damien Ryan hit out at what he called “hypocrisy from Cllr Mellett, if a private company folded in Mayo with this number of jobs on the line, you’d call a special meeting inside 24 hours.”
A number of other councillors told the meeting that there was so much work to be done by the council they could not see from where the staff could be cut. Cllr Michael Kilcoyne told the meeting that he had money put aside for work last year that still was not done.
Cathaoirleach Michael Burke had to cut off a number of councillors a number of times for speaking over their time limits, with Cllr Jimmy Maloney telling the Cathaoirleach: “I have never seen such a school bell job from someone in that chair in all my life.” Cllr Richard Finn was told to sit down after he had spoken for eight minutes, to which Cllr Finn responded, “Have I, I could go on all day.”
Fine Gael councillor John Cribben hit back at the other parties in the chamber late on in the meeting noting: “I see that one of the people who thought it was so important to sign the request for the meeting isn’t even here.” He also went on to accuse Sinn Féin of being the know it-all party.