All but two members of Bundoran Town Council voted to bar the public and the press from their monthly meeting on Tuesday.
The unusual move was made after Patricia McCafferty, who had previously been advised that she would not be allowed attend council meetings unless she promised to abide by Standing Orders, arrived in the public gallery. She was attired in a costume resembling a mobile phone, with a text message featuring allegations against a council member.
Initially, Council Chairman Mick McMahon (SF) adjourned the meeting for five minutes. Town Manager Garry Martin said afterwards that he and the town clerk tried to elicit a verbal assurance from Ms McCafferty that she would conform to Standing Orders “but that was not forthcoming”.
Ms McCafferty remained in the public gallery and Mayor McMahon said “with regret” that the meeting would have to be held in committee, as the council would not tolerate “repeated disruptions”. He asked the press and public to leave.
One journalist challenged whether the council was entitled to hold an entire meeting in committee without giving prior notice. The meeting was again adjourned, to obtain clarification. On resumption, the Town Manager said that the council, under Section 45 (3) the Local Government Act, 2001, was acting within its rights.
Cllrs. Florence Doherty and Diarmaid Doherty, both Independents, opposed a motion to hold the meeting in committee. However, the motion was passed by a majority and the meeting then went into committee.
Ms McCafferty said afterwards that she believes the council acted illegally and are victimising her and her family. She has made a formal statement to gardaí asking them to investigae.