Grass Roots – An inside look at local politics – from the pens of the politicians themselves

Blatant hypocrisy in Castlebar

So Councillor Noel Campbell is gone, helped along by those who made the complaint that he was now too high a grade in the public service to continue to represent people in his native town. Funny isn’t it that some people who are paid from the same public purse, a lot more than Cllr Campbell, remain as elected members of local councils.

What fascinates me most were the reports in the local papers of the glowing tributes that all present at the last meeting of Castlebar Town Council paid to Cllr Campbell, I’m sure they were all deserved.

Tributes like “competent and committed councillor whose analysis of what was going on at meetings was second to none”. “It was a privilege to have served with him.” “ We can’t afford to lose councillors like him.” “ He waited until the end of debates to make his comments which were well thought out.” “He will be missed in the chamber”.

The ironic thing about all of these tributes were, that they were being paid to a man who just over six months ago, seven of the elected councillors had voted against for the position of mayor. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and indeed Labour had no problem voting for the Fine Gael nominee Kevin Guthrie over Noel Campbell, who was proposed by Michael Kilcoyne for the position of mayor and had to be seconded by Campbell himself. Not that there is anything wrong with my old friend Kevin Guthrie, but when Cllr Campbell has all the excellent qualities that the councillors said he has, it amazes me why he didn’t qualify for the position of mayor. Clearly the tributes they paid to him were just lip service because if they believed what they were saying then surely over the five years he served on the council they should have elected him as mayor.

The tributes paid are a prime example of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael hypocrisy at its best.

The reason they voted against him for the position of mayor was because he did not belong to any of the three parties. Perhaps this is why he went litter picking when the annual general meetings of the council were being held rather than taking part in the annual charade.

Cllr Campbell will do well in the future. He is a man of great ability, but doesn’t something stink in a system whereby the representatives elected by the people decide to give out well paid positions based on political affiliation rather than to people like Campbell who is to quote one of the tributes “competent and committed”.

Cllr Campbell was the youngest member of the council and would have brought youth and new ideas to the office of mayor. He would have broken up the ‘old boys’ club’ but there is no doubt that his replacement will succeed in doing that no matter what opposition she encounters.

In less than five months the people will have their say again and they will find it difficult to distinguish between the three main parties, who have no problem supporting each other when their interests are threatened. This is not in the best interests of the people of Castlebar. The people would do well to remember this when they cast their votes next June.


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