Before it even begins its work, Mullingar’s Joint Policing Committee is finding itself in a legal quandary of its own.
Following last month’s stormy exchanges at Mullingar Town Council’s meeting, Cllr Frank McIntyre is continuing to insist that the county acted outside the regulations in the way it appointed three members of the voluntary sector to the JPC.
Cllr McIntyre, who was on the committee which negotiated the JPC guidelines nationally, says the county council should have advertised the positions in the local media and then interested parties should have been considered by the town council.
Instead, the county council “came along with three names”, says the Mullingar councillor. He says he checked the correctness of the council’s actions at a recent executive meeting of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland.
What happened in Mullingar “doesn’t comply with directives set down by the Minister”.
He has since delivered a copy of the official guidelines and an example of an advertisement published by Nenagh Town Council in a Tipperary newspaper, as well as a letter from the Association to Mr George Lambden, Director of Services.
The advertisement invites "community and voluntary organisations in the Nenagh Town Council administrative area who wish to participate in the process to select the three persons to represent the sector to register their interest with the town council".
Cllr McIntyre wants the positions advertised to allow a show of interest. If there are more than three applicants, the town council will decide who best represents the interests of the community. He questions why someone from Kinnegad, outside the administrative area of Mullingar Town Council has been proposed by the county council.
“If the council don’t care to go with the policy as pointed out, I will make an official complaint to the Minister regarding Westmeath County Council ballyragging and bullying the town council,” says Cllr McIntyre.
He disagrees that his actions are discrediting the JPC before it even starts its work.
“Not at all. It will get off to a proper start, representing the community at large and not vested interests.
“The county council always try to downgrade the work of the town council by taking rights out of our hands, telling us who we should have, imposing people on us before the committee is formed.”
Cllr McIntyre is confident that his interpretation of the guidelines is the correct one.
“Who better to know what’s expected than the people who negotiated them?”