The start of Monday’s council budget meeting was delayed by a dispute between Fianna Fáil Cllr. Ciaran Brogan and independent Cllr. Frank McBrearty Jr.
Cllr. Brogan, Fianna Fáil party whip, claimed that Cllr. McBrearty had sent an intimidating email to one of his colleagues at 4.46am last Sunday, but Cllr. McBrearty denied the email was intimidating.
“I won’t be intimidated in this council chamber by Cllr. McBrearty,” Cllr. Brogan said. He added, “If there is an attempt today to intimidate me or my party, we won’t stand for it.” He said he did not want to go into the details of the email, but characterised it as an attempt to intimidate his members.
McBrearty asked for Cllr. Brogan to read the email into the record, but Cllr. Brogan did not. Cllr. Brogan said elected members were named in the email, adding, “I think there could be further legal implications down the road.”
“If Cllr. Brogan withdraws his allegations and comments, then I won’t demand this is read into the record,” Cllr. McBrearty said.
Cllr. McBrearty then asked Donegal Mayor, independent Cllr. Ian McGarvey, if Cllr. McBrearty himself could read the email. The mayor first said that he had no problem with the request but some moments later said he had been informed that he did not have the authority to allow the email to be read without council consent.
When Cllr. McBrearty began reading the email aloud without consent, the mayor adjourned the meeting. As Cllr. McBrearty continued to read the email aloud, the mayor, Fianna Fáil councillors and most senior council staff present left the chamber. After further heated discussion after reconvening, the mayor adjourned the meeting until 2pm. The meeting had been scheduled to start at 11am.
When the meeting reconvened at 2pm, councillors voted to allow Cllr. McBrearty to read the email into the record, with Fianna Fáil councillors and Mayor McGarvey voting against.
In the email to Fianna Fáil Cllr. David Alcorn, Cllr. McBrearty said he was saddened by what he said were allegations Cllr. Alcorn made regarding the council’s handling of allegations against Cllr. Alcorn involving expenses when Cllr. McBrearty was mayor. In July of 2013, Cllr. Alcorn was cleared of any wrongdoing in the matter.
In a lengthy email in which Cllr. McBrearty detailed his role in the process, he said, “I hope that you will accept what I have told you and that you will acknowledge in writing that I have done nothing wrong in examining the file that was given to me by Liam Ward in my role as mayor. If this does not happen I will have a statement which has been prepared read into the record of Donegal County Council concerning my role and investigation conducted by me concerning your file which was sent to Sipo,” the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Speaking to the Democrat yesterday, Cllr. McBrearty said he had written the email on Saturday, Jan. 11th, and left it in the outbox in his computer. He also said that he did not introduce the email into the record. “I didn’t make it public until I had to make it public,”
Cllr. McBrearty’s email follows, below:
Private & Confidential
Cllr David Alcorn
11th Jan 2014
Dear Cllr Alcorn
I am deeply saddened by your reaction and allegations made by you in the local media before and after concerning the sending of your file and the decision by SIPO in your case. I have copies of all your comments in the media and I have had your interviews in Irish translated into English. In my role as Mayor of the county I had several obligations and one of those was to ensure that your right to natural justice was protected. Documentation given to me from the ethics registrar concerning allegations made against you which had to be looked at by me in my role as Mayor which I took very serious and that is why at all times I had legal advice at my disposal during my examination into your file. I have taken very serious the comments made by your colleague Cllr Seamus O’Domhnail on a number of occasion directed at me in the chamber that I have acted inappropriately in the way I dealt with your file and other’s to SIPO. My good name and the good name of my family are very important to me as you are well aware when my Mother stayed with you and your family in Burton Port on occasion. My Grand Mother who was a native of Burton Port and who was well known to you came from a very well respected family in the area. I understand that you have no control on what other people say but I have the right to protect my good name and my family from attack which I did very successfully when the Gardai tried to frame me for murder. If you acknowledge in writing to me that I have done nothing wrong concerning my role as Mayor in dealing with your file that will be the end of matter as far as I and my family are concerned. In the media you have raised issue’s concerning the conduct of the council which I at the time was the Mayor. If you have issues with the council then you should complain to Liam Ward and the County Manager and if you are not satisfied then you should take the appropriate action. I wish to state to you that I acted appropriately, professionally and within the remit I had as Mayor which was given to me by members of Donegal County Council. At all times during my time looking at your file I was advised by the County solicitor about my legal obligation to you in ensuring your right to Natural justice. I hope that you will accept what I have told you and that you will acknowledge in writing that I have done nothing wrong in examining the file that was given to me by Liam Ward in my role as Mayor. If this does not happen I will have a statement which has been prepared read into the record of Donegal County Council concerning my role and investigation conducted by me concerning your file which was sent to SIPO. Finally I want to wish you and your family all the best in the future and I look forward to working with you on the Council over the next 5 months of this term of the Council.
Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr