Tempers flare over Florentine complaint
SOME STAGE WALK-OUT FROM CHAMBER
A FURIOUS exchange over allegations of wrongdoing saw Monday’s meeting of Wicklow County Council being temporarily abandoned as tempers flared when the members were told they couldn’t discuss the matter.
Chairman of the Council, Cllr. Jimmy O’Shaughnessy, said he had received an e-mail on April 23, last Wednesday, alleging that two council officials and a councillor had acted incorrectly in respect of the Florentine site in Bray.
He said ‘after looking at the complaint, I decided to send it to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO). I sent it by registered post on Thursday and I won’t be making a further statement on it.
llr. Tommy Cullen argued that Cllr. O’Shaughnessy had already discussed the matter in a local freesheet newspaper. He demanded to know who the councillor being complained of was.
Cllr. O’Shaughnessy tried to stop discussions but Cllr. Cullen countered ‘we are entitled to raise questions’. Cllr. Chris Fox said Cllr. O’Shaughnessy had dealt correctly by referring the matter to SIPO and said ‘we can’t discuss this in the interest in natural justice’.
Cllr. Cullen then demanded that the two officials mentioned in the complaint ‘step aside voluntarily with immediate effect’ in respect of all planning and zoning issues within the county.
Cllr. John Brady said he under- stood the council had been put on notice of the complaint on April 2.
Cllr. John Byrne, in support of Cllr. Fox, said SIPO had been set up specifically to deal with such complaints and added ‘we can’t solve this. There is a body there to deal with it, and they have far greater powers’.
Cllr. Irene Winters agreed that the content of the allegations couldn’t be discussed but said that in the local freesheet, Cllr. O’Shaughnessy was quoted as saying he had been given misinformation by council staff. She wondered how that could have happened.
Cllr. O’Shaughnessy said he had received a formal complaint on April 23, after he, Bray Town Council, and the ethics officer of Wicklow County Council had been put on notice in early April that a complaint was being sent.
Cllr. Barry Nevin pressed Cllr. O’Shaughnessy on the date that council became aware of the complaint, noting that a defamation action he had been involved in was started on April 7.
Cllr. Pat Vance said ‘ let’s move on’ and Cllr. Tom Fortune said ‘we, as public representatives, are dutybound to ask questions’.
Cllr. O’Shaughnessy said he had ‘done each and every one of you a favour by sending this to SIPO’.
Director of Services Joe Lane then attempted to move onto the next’ item on the agenda, the establishment of Local Community Development Committees, but some members continued to angrily debate the matter with Cllr. Brady saying ‘you can’t sweep this under the carpet’ while Cllr. Cullen got on his feet, saying ‘ this is an outrage. I’m not going to sit here if members aren’t allowed to speak.’
Cllr. John Snell and Cllr. Brady also got on their feet, as did acting county manager Bryan Doyle and Cllr. O’Shaughnessy. Some members and officials then left the chamber, leaving the remaining members wondering if the meeting had been abandoned or simply adjourned.
Ten minutes later, the meeting resumed with the next item on the agenda.
The Florentine site in Bray.
County Council Chairman Jimmy O’Shaughnessy.