The spectacle of local government in operation descended into farce at last Monday’s meeting of Mayo County Council, which saw one councillor stand on his feet and continue to talk over the other members as the Cathaoirleach tried to get on with the business of the meeting.
Shortly after 3.20pm, Cllr Frank Durcan tried to raise a point of order on the meeting, but was shot down by Cathaoirleach Johnny O’Malley who told Cllr Durcan he would let him speak when the business of the meeting had concluded for the day. However Cllr Durcan wouldn’t accede to this suggestion and stood on his feet for over 20 minutes, continuing to shout over the Cathaoirleach and other members. The members had agreed to adjourn the meeting at 4pm as a mark of respect to the late council employee Ger Munnelly and to the late father of Cllr Damien Ryan.
The Cathaoirleach told Cllr Durcan that he had no respect for families of the dead men, with Cllr Durcan responding that it was out of order to make such a claim. The Cathaoirleach also said that Cllr Durcan should turn up his hearing aid and not to shout if he couldn’t hear what was being said.
Both Cllr Durcan and Cathaoirleach O’Malley bickered back and fourth at each other during the unedifying spectacle that was played out, with Cllr Durcan at one point telling the Cathaoirleach: “No one from Carrowholly with cowboy boots and hat will stop me”, and that Cllr O’Malley belonged in Germany before the war, telling him that “You’re not a democrat.”
When the council got through the matters on the agenda, as the farce to play out for all to see, Cathaoirleach O’Malley turned to Cllr Durcan saying: “Now what did you want to shout about?” The Castlebar based councillor then proceeded to outline a number of issues, including an alleged improper land deal, naming three people who either worked for or had connections with the council. He also raised the issue of a planning file, that he said the Information Commissioner had received, that had files and documents removed from it by the council allegedly.
County manager Peter Hynes refuted all the allegations that Cllr Durcan had put forward and told the meeting that if the majority of the members or the Cathaoirleach requested that the issues Cllr Durcan had raised to be discussed at another meeting.