The chief executive of Mayo County Council was challenged by Independent councillor Frank Durcan to take him to court on Monday at the council’s December meeting which took place in Knock Airport.
At the start of the meeting, the Castlebar based councillor got up and accused the chief executive of the council, Peter Hynes, of lying to the council at the previous month’s meeting.
Responding to Cllr Durcan’s allegations that Mr Hynes lied about the council being contacted about a story in the Sunday Independent about possible planning corruption on November 9, Mr Hynes said: “Councillor you accused me of telling lies to this organisation and I did not. I was asked for a comment and I gave a truthful, accurate comment and response to the question I was asked. I don’t care what your opinion is councillor.” As Mr Hynes attempted to complete what he was saying, Cllr Durcan interjected saying: “There’s a judicial system in this country and I challenge you to bring me to court.” Mr Hynes continued: “You’re a disgrace, an absolute disgrace, and I totally and absolutely refute the allegation that I told lies to this council and I will be taking advice on what course of action that I will take thereafter.” Mr Hynes asked Cllr Durcan to withdraw his allegation saying: “There is no basis that I told lies to this council and if you’re a gentleman, you would withdraw it. I’ll take that you are not withdrawing, that speaks for itself.” Cllr Durcan responded by saying: “You have your redress and I hope you take it.” The chief executive retorted: “One of these days Councillor,” while Cllr Durcan responded saying: “You won’t, because you haven’t the courage.” The council chief executive had the last word, saying to the councillor who has more than 40 years as an elected councillor in both town and county councils: “You will hear what the redress will be. Your 40 years may be about to change.”
At the November meeting of the council, Mr Hynes was asked about a story that had appeared in the previous day’s Sunday Independent newspaper about alleged planning corruption. The story did not name any county, Mr Hynes told the November meeting: “I am aware of the coverage in a national newspaper at the weekend. You will be aware that no county was named in that and it appears that it might refer to Mayo, but as of now, we have had no communication from any agency or authority. If we are communicated with, as always we will co-operate fully with any investigation that takes place to its conclusion.”
At last Monday’s meeting, Cllr Durcan accused Mr Hynes of lying in that statement, saying: “That was a blatant lie, in my 42 years as a public representative, it is the first time, that any senior executive of this council came in here and told the 31 members or 30 members of this council and the people of Mayo a blatant bare faced lie. Because I have the documentary evidence where Mr Hynes’s solicitor wrote to that paper some 10 days before the article was published threatening them that if they published the article, he would take legal proceedings against them.”