There were angry scenes in the Mayo County Council chamber on Monday, when Fine Gael councillor Gerry Coyle and Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray got involved in a heated side battle with each other during a debate on a motion from Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh which was calling for water charges to be scrapped.
The debate on the motion had seen West Mayo Independent councillor Christy Hyland hit out at “elements” in some of the protests over water charges around the country, who he said were out to attack, assault, and injure gardai. Cllr Coyle during his submission said that he had seen the thuggery at protests before first hand, during the protests over the Corrib Gas project. Cllr Murray accused Cllr Coyle of engaging in “Shell PR spin”. Cllr Coyle told the meeting that he could show Cllr Murray the letters of threats to him and his family he received during the height of the Corrib Gas protests. Cllr Murray responded that none of those threats had come from Sinn Féin, and that the gas issue wasn’t finished by a long shot yet, and that it was not just gardai who were thrown into drains there.
The motion itself failed to get passed by the council, after Fianna Fáil proposed to attach an amendment to the motion, which Cllr Conway-Walsh was unable to accept, as it said that water charges could be introduced at a later date. Cathaoirleach Damien Ryan agreed to a request from Cllr Conway-Walsh to adjourn the debate on the motion until the next monthly meeting of the council until the December meeting of the council, as she had to leave the meeting to attend the a funeral of a relation in the UK.