Cause for Despair or Cause to Fight

Outcome of First City Council Meeting  after  the recent Local Elections.

Congratulations to Cllr Donal Lyons on his election as Mayor of the City, it is a great privilege and I have no doubt that he will work hard to represent the people of the City at home and abroad.

Congratulations also to FF Councillors for keeping their word and working with myself and the three Sinn Fein Councillors in order to form groupings to allow appointments to some of the committees.

In relation to the meeting itself it is difficult not to despair at the utter failure by the ‘the majority pact’ to take any account of gender balance and/or to hold the unelected executive to account.

Firstly in relation to gender balance or more precisely the lack of it let me give just a few examples.

It has now been confirmed that all Mayors for the next five years will be male and it would appear all Deputy Mayors as well.

Furthermore the new seven member Board of Leisureland ‘The Magnificent Seven’ are all male.

Similarly in relation to the ‘Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board (Formerly the City of Galway Vocational Education Committee) there were three vacancies of which two were filled by male councillors and the third appointment of a male councillor by the Pact was stalled only when the executive clarified that there needed to be gender balance. As they could not recommend a female councillor this position was not filled!

There were many other examples but I think the point has been made.

Even more worrying though was the new Council’s response to the City Manager’s  ( who is to be known from now on at the Chief Executive Officer) proposal to postpone the first official working meeting of the new Council to allow us to bond together in private in the first instance (my words).

Given that the last City Council meeting was held in April and given the very serious and urgent problems which need to be tackled in the City in an open and accountable manner, including almost 5,000 households on a housing waiting list and at the same time an ongoing investigation by the City Manager into the alleged inappropriate allocation of local authority/affordable houses by housing official(s) to housing officials(s), together with the almost weekly closure of family businesses in the City, the proposed privatisation of all our Community Centres to name but a few. the lack of outrage on the part of thenewly elected Councillors at such a proposal was deeply worrying.

Indeed  the  Manager’s  proposal to defer the meeting was only rejected after a battle and the  proposal by myself  that the first public working meeting of the City Council go ahead as planned on the 16th June was finally accepted.

All in all it was a not a meeting to inspire confidence but fight we must as democracy or the illusion of it,  is all we have.

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