AN outburst from Limerick’s Deputy Mayor, Cllr Dan McSweeney, over his concerns on Active Travel processes was severely criticised by Council members at this Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting.
The Fine Gael man hit out at Limerick City and County Council’s Active Travel team and then stormed out of the Dooradoyle chamber before an official could respond to his questions.
Cllr McSweeney took aim at Active Travel’s Executive Engineer Richard Gorey as councillors were asked to consider a Part 8 for the Corbally Road Safe Routes to School scheme.
The Deputy Mayor was not impressed that all 21 members of the Metropolitan District had not been given a presentation on the proposed plans.
”Richard, this is news to me. You’ve asked for me to come in here this morning and give due consideration to a report I got last Wednesday. Lads, I think Active Travel, ye need to have a serious chat with yourselves,” Cllr McSweeney declared.
“I am not opposing the scheme but, by God, ye need to have a chat with yourselves.
“I wasn’t briefed on it but you are asking the 21 members to pass a Part 8 that I know nothing about. Who was briefed or was it just the report that was circulated?” the City West representative asked.
In response, Active Travel Executive Engineer Richard Gorey pointed out that the Chief Executive’s Report was issued on September 13 last, and briefings, he explained had taken place throughout the process.
“What councillors were briefed?” Cllr McSweeney demanded.
On being told that City North councillors had been informed, the Deputy Mayor took issue that all 21 Metropolitan area representatives had not been given the same consideration ahead of this week’s meeting, before walking out.
Fianna Fáil councillor Kieran O’Hanlon expressed disappointment with the Deputy Mayor and his treatment of the Council staff member.
”I don’t think that is anyway to treat an official coming in here,” he fumed.
”I’m the longest serving councillor here in the city area and we’ve always been treated with the utmost respect by officials on the Council and I expect that in return from every councillor,” Cllr O’Hanlon told members.
“It’s not good enough that a councillor will come in here, and particularly the Deputy Mayor, and basically abuse an official and walk out and basically give them the two fingers.”
Independent councillor Frankie Daly said he found the tone of the councillor’s outbreak “very poor”.
”I suppose he was a bit emotional but to throw a little nuclear bomb and run out, I think it was very unfair.”
Labour councillor Conor Sheehan also felt that it wasn’t right for Cllr McSweeney to “throw a hissy fit” at an official and then storm out of the chamber.
“The councillors’ code of conduct has been emailed out for less than that. I don’t think it is appropriate, particularly from an officeholder, the Deputy Mayor, to not have the respect to sit here, to listen to Richard – who has done phenomenal work – and not have the basic decency and respect after asking a question to listen to the answer, is not fitting conduct for a member of this local authority,” Cllr Sheehan said.
Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan offered her support to the Deputy Mayor in a show of solidarity with his comments made.
”I would like to support my fellow Limerick City West councillor, Dan McSweeney. This is not about criticising any individual workers in the Active Travel team. This is about unfair practices that are happening and different processes with Part 8s in different electoral areas,” she insisted.
Cllr O’Donovan deemed it unfair for councillors to support Part 8s when there are different processes in different areas.
Cllr McSweeney’s Fine Gael party colleague Cllr Olivia O’Sullivan also showed support and maintained that the Deputy Mayor was completely frustrated.
“He’s a very diligent councillor who attends all the briefings. He has no idea of the good work that Richard has done, that’s the reality of it. He’s not familiar with any of that. As his colleague I am very happy to welcome and support the scheme,” Cllr O’Sullivan concluded.
The Part 8 was proposed by Independent councillor Frankie Daly and seconded by Labour councillor Conor Sheehan.