Council budget passed despite Sinn Féin opposition

Cllr Al McDonnell proposed a number of budgetary amendments.

Cllr Al McDonnell proposed a number of budgetary amendments.

The 2015 budget for Mayo County Council was passed at Monday’s reconvened budget meeting of the council after it was put to a vote twice.

Fianna Fáil whip Cllr Al McDonnell proposed a number of small amendments to the budget from the draft. His amendments were supported by Fine Gael, with their council whip Cllr Jarlath Munnelly seconding Cllr McDonnell’s amendments.

The major change from the draft budget that was put forward by Cllr McDonnell was to increase the amount of discretionary spending in the four municipal areas from €240,000 to €440,000. There was also a reallocation of €50,000 from the budget for the council’s Enterprise and Investment Unit to Ireland West Airport Knock to be invested in increasing passenger numbers. This takes the council’s financial contribution to the airport up to €200,000 for the year, as the council had already committed €150,000 towards the airport in the budget.

There was also an allocation of €15,000 from the council’s capital budget to the Mayo Rape Crisis Centre for improvement works, and an increase of €10,000 in the council’s spending on animal welfare, bringing it up to €40,000 for the year. The Notice of Motion Allocations to each councillor was also increased to €37,500 with the money for that coming from a cut in the budgeted figure of €233,500 for councillors attending conferences and training.

Sinn Féin Cllr Therese Ruane proposed an amendment to the Cllr McDonnell’s proposals, which would have seen €25,000 being provided to for the provision of defibrillators for the fire service in the county, an allocation of €7,000 for the Dyslexia Association, and that €31,000 be allocated to the Mayo Rape Crisis Centre, which was the full cost of the repair work that needs to be carried out according to Cllr Ruane.

When it was put to a vote on the floor, Cllr Ruane’s amendment was defeated by 23 votes to three (four councillors were absent from the meeting ), with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the independents all voting against Cllr Ruane’s proposal, with Cllr Ruane and her two Sinn Féin colleagues supporting her amendments.

With Cllr McDonnell’s proposal being deemed the only one before the chamber, county secretary John Condon asked was it agreed. But Sinn Féin whip Cllr Gerry Murray demanded it be put to a vote, saying that Sinn Féin did not support the budget at all. Fine Gael whip Cllr Munnelly asked whether there was an alternative budget to put forward, while Fianna Fáil whip Cllr McDonnell said that Sinn Féin were engaging in ‘shenanigans’. Cllr Murray demanded that the budget be put to a vote and it was passed by 23 votes to three with just the three Sinn Féin councillors voting against the budget.

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