County councillors have delayed endorsing new county council guidelines aimed at preventing fraud and corruption in the organisation amid concerns the policies have not been discussed properly.
The new policy will be discussed at the next council meeting in September after Cllr. Frank McBrearty said there had not been adequate opportunity to discuss the document and the legal implications of the policies.
But the council said the document had come through the normal processes. The new policy was considered by the council’s housing and corporate strategic policy committee (SPC) and the corporate policy group earlier this month.
“I don’t understand why this was not brought to a workshop where we could have had a proper discussion on this because I have concerns about this,” Cllr. McBrearty said. “The fact is a SPC does not have voting rights. This should have been discussed, this document should have been brought to a workshop so that we could ask questions that need to be clarified in this document.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Ciaran Brogan proposed that a workshop be held on the issue, but withdrew this after opposition was expressed to holding a meeting on the issue behind closed doors.
Cllr. Patrick McGowan said: “I am against workshops. We are only one part of this. Why should we have the luxury of going behind closed doors to discuss? I have a big issue with going into a workshop. We are keeping the public out and the media out.”
Cllr John Ryan said: “A workshop is very dangerous place to go into” while Cllr. Ian McGarvey added: “I am against workshops. People are entitled to know what we are discussing.”
County manager Seamus Neely said the approach taken in presenting the policy to the council was the due process. “If we expect to do something else then we need to alter our process,” he said.
“My default position is that issues should be debated in a public meeting. It is something that we are going to have to clarify at an early juncture - whether we use a workshop system or the SPCs.
“I wouldn’t want the message to go out that we don’t value the contribution of non council SPC members.”
It was agreed to defer the issue to the September meeting of the council and issues councillors have about the policy can be brought to the attention of the council before then.