IT is not uncommon for council meetings to go round in circles because a local representative has taken a meandering tangent, often on an issue that isn’t even on the agenda.
However, at last week’s Newcastle West area meeting, a row broke out over some housekeeping issues aimed at preventing local authority business from wandering down a slippery slope.
Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin asked that standing orders be suspended so that questions on the agenda could be discussed. This, he felt, was how business had previously been done over his 18 years on the council.
However, Cllr Galvin, who had a number of questions on last Wednesday’s agenda, was informed that questions are taken as read at Council meetings.
“We’ve already had a discussion on this at a previous meeting, a meeting which you left, so spending any more time on it is counterproductive,” Cathaoirleach of Newcastle West District Cllr Michael Collins (FF) replied.
Cllr Collins took the view that opening the floor up to debate something that members of the executive and their staff cannot answer on the hop wastes time, serving little purpose with council members “going off track”.
“What we have been doing for the last 18 years is wrong and I want to streamline the meetings.
“You are the offender every time. You are so frustrating. 18 years we have been doing our business wrong,” he insisted.
Cllr Galvin hit back that discussing replies to councillors’ questions will not delay the meeting.
Fine Gael councillor John Sheahan pointed out that the onus is on the member who asked the question to contact the executive in advance of a meeting if there has been an unsatisfactory response which needs greater clarification.
“Rather than making a hoo-ha, it is up to the individual to get over the hump and make contact directly.”
“They are rubbish answers we are getting anyway,” Cllr Galvin retorted.
Bringing the issue calmly to a close, Cllr Collins said that he had learned in recent months that there’s no point arguing over things one needn’t be arguing over.