Donegal Mayor, Fine Gael Cllr. Noel McBride, said he hopes tomorrow’s meeting with county council whips will resolve issues of conduct in chambers and allow the council to move forward.
But Fianna Fáil has said meetings are “spiralling out of control” and will propose that they be streamed on line in future.
The mayor called the meeting of in the aftermath of the February council meeting, which was punctuated by angry exchanges, interruptions and adjournments, and finally adjourned before the business was completed.
“The last meeting was disappointing,” Mayor McBride said. “It was very disappointing for me and disappointing for everyone. We didn’t get the business completed and issues that need to be dealt with have not been dealt with yet. It’s holding back the progress of the council.”
Fianna Fáil whip, Cllr. Ciaran Brogan, said Fianna Fáil’s view is that ongoing discipline issues are “spiralling out of control, and that no effort is being made to deal with the issues pertaining to discipline, disorder and unruly conduct.” The party also questioned the mayor’s impartiality in rulings at the last meeting.
Cllr. Brogan said Fianna Fáil will propose that all future meetings be streamed live on the web. The party is also seeking clarity on decisions reached at the last meeting after Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin councillors approved a brief adjournment and left the chamber. Mayor McBride did not recognise the adjournment, and the meeting continued.
“It is our view that Donegal County Council can no longer function in its present manner with poor discipline, lack of respect for fellow colleagues during council meetings, threatening behaviour by members within the chamber being unchallenged,” and lack of respect to members of staff and to visitors,” Cllr. Brogan said.
Independent Cllr. Ian McGarvey said he would like to see an agreement Friday “whereby all of us will be able to work together from here on in, in a manner that serves the people of Donegal to the best of our ability.” He said he did not believe a divisive approach served any purpose.
Sinn Féin Cllr. Mick Quinn wanted to see clarity around a code of conduct for all council meetings come from tomorrow’s meeting. But he said the key is not just to agree a code, but to “ensure that there is a strong and firm adjudication process, particularly where the conduct is being breached.”
“It really is all about respect,” Cllr. Quinn said.
Labour Cllr. Frank McBrearty Jr. said the Labour Party “fully supports the mayor. The mayor has a very, very difficult job to do, and I don’t envy him.”