A “HISSY fit” from Limerick’s Deputy Mayor, Cllr Dan McSweeney, at the October Metropolitan District meeting had council members hot under the collar once again at this month’s district meeting.
At the October meeting of the city council areas, Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin asked for clarification from Cllr McSweeney on whether he had made an apology to the official that he “verbally took an onslaught upon at the last Metropolitan meeting”.
“Now, I’m not against robust debate. I’m long enough in this chamber to know that’s important, but the outburst at the last Metropolitan meeting … us as elected members need to have respect and courtesy for each other but so do we have to have respect and courtesy for the officials here,” Cllr Leddin told his fellow councillors.
“The officials are trying to do a job. They are people, like ourselves, and we need to work harmoniously together, albeit in a robust environment like the council chamber. So I want to get clarification now from Cllr McSweeney, has he made an apology to that official?
“We all say things in the heat of the moment, but if he hasn’t made an apology, I will be asking him to make an apology. We need to set a standard here. We had the same thing at the budget meeting here when another Fine Gael councillor verbally abused the Director of Service and then walked out, as Cllr McSweeney walked out of the last meeting. We need to look at standing orders.
Cllr McSweeney took aim at Active Travel’s executive engineer Richard Gorey at last month’s Metropolitan meeting as councillors were asked to consider a Part 8 for the Corbally Road Safe Routes to School scheme.
The Deputy Mayor claimed that the 21 Metropolitan District representatives had not been given a presentation on the proposed plans in sufficient time and stormed out before the official could answer him.
“Withstanding his inexperience and immaturity, there needs to be an apology made to that official and I am asking now, has that happened? If it hasn’t, it needs to happen,” Cllr Leddin declared.
Cllr McSweeney to hit back, saying that “Cllr Leddin has accused me of being immature and this is not the forum to accuse elected members to be immature. I’d ask him to retract those comments immediately.”
“I have no intention of withdrawing it until he clarifies whether he apologised to that official or not, and then we’ll see if he is immature or mature,” Cllr Leddin replied.
The Fine Gael council members were keen to speak on the matter.
“This is opportunism of the highest order,” Cllr Sarah Kiely claimed.
“This councillor is talking about standing orders and totally flouted standing orders and disrespected the Cathaoirleach by interrupting the meeting in such a way. It is pure opportunism and electioneering coming to the end of the council term.”
“I don’t need to take any lectures from Cllr Kiely. You are the very one at the budget meeting last week who disowned herself from her colleague in Cllr Teskey,” Cllr Leddin retorted.
Former Limerick Mayor Cllr Daniel Butler also wanted an apology from Cllr Leddin for his remarks.
“Cllr Leddin has come in with blatant ageist comments, based on age, that he can make a judgement on Cllr McSweeney. It is a bit rich coming from Cllr Leddin in the kind of behaviour he has displayed over the years in his career,” he said.
“I expect an apology for his ageist comment. The comments made by Cllr Leddin are completely inappropriate, simple as. They are ageist in nature. If a comment was made about an older person, we would be saying the exact same thing,” he said.
Cllr McSweeney continued to press the Labour councillor to retract his remarks.
“Somebody has made quite serious accusations to me and I wish to correct the record. Following the last meeting, I have had robust discussion with Active Travel and I have received assurances that that will not happen again. The main reason behind me walking out the last day was we were asked to approve a Part 8, which under law, Cllr Leddin, we are to give due consideration. But I, as an elected member, could not give due consideration to that Part 8 as I had not been briefed on it along with all the other 14 members.
“Maybe it shows, if you think I am immature, that I am taking my job quite seriously,” he said.
“I am sick of this. Can we just get on with the meeting. Stop the waffling,” Green Party councillor Seán Hartigan appealed to the chamber, before the matter was moved on and the meeting’s agenda was allowed to be commenced in earnest.