Council Affairs: Councillors blow up over windmills

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

IT was Greek playwright Aristophanes who once said that “to win the people, always cook them some savoury that pleases them”. And they were certainly cooking up a right storm, to a packed gallery as well, out in County Hall last week at the monthly meeting of Limerick City and County Council (LCCC). You’d swear there was an election coming or something.

With irate members of the Coolcappa Community Action Group spitting fire from the balcony over a proposed wind farm in their locality, council members knew they were going to have to put on a performance of John Player Tops of the Town proportions.

And the oldest trick of them all – a real favourite at these local authority meetings – was sure to be the trump card.

When all else fails, Limerick councillors’ party piece has always been to repeat the same thing as the last 10 speakers. It’s been an illusion of smoke and mirrors magnitude since Conn Murray was a wee nipper.

Fine Gael showman Cllr Adam Teskey – who seems to have learned his stagecraft from the greatest panto dame to ever tread the boards, the one and only Cllr Kevin Sheahan – was in fine fettle altogether.

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Cllr Teskey gave an absolute masterclass on how to say the exact same thing as the last fella. He may have hoped that simply adding more gusto would leave them wanting more and cause them to forget they had already heard all this from Cllr Stephen Keary.

With all 40 councillors in attendance, and elections only two months away, one thing was certain – there would be no one getting out of here in time for Home and Away.

Cllr Keary proposed a motion requesting a full report from the Minister of Health regarding wind turbines. There were serious questions that needed answering, he made out, in relation to health effects on residents, noise levels, shadow flicker, damage to residential amenity, and whatever you’re having yourself.

This was sure to secure him some votes in June from onlookers, but there’s no blaggarding with this fella, let me tell you.

Spotting an opportunity, Cllr Teskey was quick to second his Fine Gael colleague’s motion, adding a little razzmatazz to make it all his own.

Himself and his best pal Cllr Emmet O’Brien have had to be separated in the council chamber on occasion for their back-of-the-class high jinks, but we were getting a different side to the Rathkeale man on this outing. Opting to play a more mature role, he seemed to be channelling his inner Garrett FitzGerald as he spoke directly to his electorate in the cheap seats.

“Law abiding and tax-paying residents in Coolcappa are now living in fear,” he declared, as he warmed up the crowd.

“They are living in fear for a wide range of issues and concerns. Most noticeably, there is the possibility of an application coming before us that’s going to see the erection of wind turbines in our parish. I believe it is not the correct place to put these turbines. I have always been on record saying off-shore is best for this. Don’t be bringing them into my community, dividing it.”

On fire he was.

“You are putting people’s lives at risk. These are people who are taxpayers, mortgage holders, who have erected houses in the area for themselves, for their sons, for their daughters, for their future generations, for the schools, in the area and vicinity that I represent,” Cllr Teskey bellowed.

Now that the bold Teskey had found his wings, he was looking to rejig the motion before the floor as if it was his very own.

Now, Cllr Keary might be no show pony, but he doesn’t mince his words either, and he was having none of this auld showboating.

“Did ye read my motion at all? he asked confoundedly.

Let them eat sauce indeed.