Council capitulate following legal challenge in waylaid eviction ban debate

Sinn Féin Councillor Sharon Benson

SINN Féin councillor Sharon Benson has welcomed confirmation from Limerick City and County Council that it has conceded to her legal challenge regarding its conduct at a special meeting last month.

There was angry scenes at the April 5 special meeting when council members were prevented from debating a Sinn Féin motion calling on the Government to extend the eviction ban.

A counter motion from Fine Gael, calling on the Government to expedite the counter measures democratically passed by Dáil Éireann on foot of lifting the temporary eviction ban, was proposed and seconded on the day.

Cllr Benson explained at the time that the reason for the emergency meeting was to discuss evictions and to receive a report regarding emergency accommodation. She warned the executive that she wasn’t going to be fobbed off with talk of standing orders and votes on counter-proposals.

Speaking on the matter this week, Cllr Benson said: “In April this year, a special meeting was held and a motion on the ending of the eviction ban was to be discussed. During this meeting the Council blatantly disregarded standing orders and refused to have the motion heard.”

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“The issue of the ending of the eviction ban was an issue of huge public interest both nationally and locally. For the motion on this matter to be ignored in such a manner was a disregard of standing orders and a denial of the local democratic process.”

Cllr Benson went onto say that the course of action the Council took left her with no choice but to pursue legal avenues to ensure that, not only this special meeting was held, but that the local democratic processes were protected.

“I am pleased that after an initial resolute refusal to acknowledge their failings, that the Council have now capitulated and agreed for the special meeting to be reconvened so that this motion of importance to the people of Limerick can be heard.”

The City North representative has now welcomed the opportunity to discuss this very important motion again when the special meeting is recalled.

“This should have been done in the first place. However in typical fashion the Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil controlled council do not want open and frank discussion taking place that has the opportunity to show up their government colleagues’ failure to deliver for hard working people and their families.

“If fair process was followed from the start, I would not have had to pursue legal action. An action that has left Limerick City and County Council facing legal costs. But here we are and I am delighted to see that both common sense and due process has won out.”

When asked for comment this week, the local authority said: “Following the Special Meeting on the 5th of April relating to a requisition on Housing, Limerick City and County Council received legal advice and a decision has been made to rescind the notice of motion and schedule a special meeting to allow for a full debate on the topic. A date and time for same will be confirmed in due course.”