Se­na­tor speaks out about hand­bag search


Bray People - - News - Es­ther HAY­DEN

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.

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