Senator speaks out about handbag search
DE BURCA EIGHT YEARS ON COUNCIL WAS A ‘DEPRESSING EXPERIENCE’
WHILE NOT quite handbags at dawn there was plenty of disharmony at Monday’s Council meeting over a search of Senator Deirdre de Burca’s own bag during a past meeting of Wicklow County Council.
Cllr. Tommy Cullen said that during a previous meeting, when Senator de Burca was a sitting councillor, her handbag had been taken from her and searched by officials of the Council.
Yesterday (Tuesday) Senator de Burca confirmed an official had approached her during a Council meeting and asked for her handbag. The bag, which contained recording equipment, was then taken from the Chamber and opened.
‘ Basically I was recording the meeting because I was very concerned about some of the statements being made.
‘ We were in the process of putting together the county development plan and there were some very questionable things going on and some very negative comments being made about me personally.
‘In order to protect myself I was recording the meeting, but because it wasn’t in standing orders, my bag was taken from me,’ she told this newspaper.
Senator de Burca said that ‘ there are very strange happenings in Wicklow County Council’.
‘ My eight years on the Council was a very depressing experience and a very poor reflection on local government.
‘I shouldn’t have had to do what I did but I came under a very sustained attack from other members and one member called me a lying b*** h,’ she said. During Monday’s meeting which followed a High Court ruling taken by Senator de Burca against Wicklow County Council, which ruled in favour of Senator de Burca, Cllr. Cullen said both the county manager and the ethics committee were found to have acted ‘unlawfully’.
During the High Court hearing, the Judge said the Council had made a serious error in law.
Cllr. Cullen said that such actions exposed the Council to massive legal bills and said they were now looking at legal costs of around €500,000.
‘The High Court is an independent body and this must have repercussion’, he said before adding that he wanted to know which Council officials had searched the then councillor’s handbag and on whose authority.
Cllr. Ciaran O’Brien of the Green Party said that he had not spoken to Senator de Burca since the time of the High Court ruling, but added that he would be expecting the Council to deliver a full report on the matter particularly in relation to the cost of the action.