‘Sour grapes’ and bathroom breaks breed discontent in Limerick city council

Limerick Metropolitan District Cathaoirleach Olivia O'Sullivan.

DID the Metropolitan District of Limerick City and County Council breach standing orders for the regulation of its meetings last month?

Or is it that the passing of the contentious South Circular Road Active Travel plans left some councillors with the feeling of “sour grapes”?

These were just a couple of the questions raised at the start of last Monday’s area meeting in the Dooradoyle council chambers.

Design changes were approved by Fine Gael councillors to the Active Travel Scheme at the fractious February meeting and passed by 13 votes to 8.

But temperatures were still fraught in County Hall a month later as answers were sought from the local authority and Cathaoirleach for the district, Cllr Olivia O’Sullivan (FG).

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At the opening of Monday’s meeting, Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin, who last month voted against the amended Active Travel plan, called for the minutes of last month’s meeting to be corrected.

He pointed out to Cllr O’Sullivan that an adjournment had been called for to examine the last minute changes to proposed plans by Fine Gael, which she denied — though this was not recorded on the minutes.

Cllr Leddin maintained that there had been a breach of standing orders during the debate as the adjournment was not voted on, even though it had been proposed and seconded.

Independent councillor Frankie Daly pointed out that a counter-proposal had been made, rendering it “null and void”.

Cllr Olivia O’Sullivan asked Cllr Leddin why the issue was not raised on the day, although she promised the City West representative that the minutes would be revisited.

”The minutes have to be corrected,” Cllr Leddin insisted. “You refused to allow an adjournment.”

Cllr O’Sullivan explained that the minutes would be reviewed.

“An adjournment was called for a number of times. It must be recorded. Full stop,” Cllr Leddin retorted.

Labour councillors Conor Sheehan and Elena Secas supported their party colleague’s request.

”This must be rectified. It was a breach of standing orders. It shouldn’t have happened,” added Secas.

Cllr Sheehan said that he wanted to see the correction included in the minutes of the February meeting.

Independent councillor Fergus Kilcoyne took the view that things were made even worse by the Cathaoirleach at last month’s meeting when she denied the request for an adjournment only to take one after the item was passed.

“It looked very bad,” Cllr Kilcoyne added.

Fianna Fáil councillor James Collins asked at last month’s meeting why a 15-minute adjournment was taken after the item, when an adjournment wasn’t given during the debate for councillors to examine the new amendment. He was still looking for an answer to the question this week.

“You told me we were too busy for an adjournment but you called for a 15-minute adjournment after the amendment was passed,” he pointed out to Cllr O’Sullivan.

”I asked you why an adjournment was taken but no answer was given.”

Cllr O’Sullivan said she didn’t want to have to announce the reason for the break after they dealt with the South Circular Road Active Travel Scheme last month.

”It was for a bathroom break. Are you satisfied with the answer?” she asked Cllr Collins.

Former Mayor Cllr Daniel Butler (FG) was strongly of the opinion that there had been no breach of standing orders and suggested what was now unfolding was a case of “sour grapes” over the passing of the controversial plan.

”We have standing orders for a reason. This isn’t an issue of sour grapes but proper protocol,” Cllr Leddin hit responded.