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County Council Chief Executive’s comments branded “disrespectful” by city reps


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

County Council Chief Executive’s comments branded “disrespectful” by city reps County Council Chief Executive’s comments branded “disrespectful” by city reps

The war of words over the airport between city and county councillors continued week with the County Chief Executive branded as “disrespectful” and his comments “glib”.

As reported by this newspaper last month, the County Council Chief Executive Liam Conneely insisted that the number of concerts at the airport “will not be decided by motions” in response to the motion passed by the City Council to limit the number of concerts to six, even though promoters MCD had an agreement with Galway County Council to hold ten this August.

County councillors later passed a motion putting no limit on the gigs that could be held.

His remark that “no matter what motion we pass or they pass, that won’t affect the decision”, but all issues to do with the airport would be finalised in a vote at the Corporate Policy Group (CPG) of both local authorities was slammed as disrespectful by Cllr Declan McDonnell

The Independent representative said he had never heard the likes of those comments in his 33 years on Galway City Council and asked if the members were wasting their time passing motions.

“Rather glib” is how Cllr Frank Fahy branded the Chief Executive’s comments that the County Council would happily take the airport “off our hands” – the strategic 113-acre site was jointly purchased between the two local authorities from the Galway Chamber of Commerce for €1.1m.

Cllr Peter Keane (FF) said the County Council should “put their money where their mouth is” and have the asset valued and offer to buy them out rather than “running to the City Tribune” – referencing a report of a County Council meeting carried in this newspaper last week.

But Cllr Niall McNelis (Lab) said the City Council would probably only get the nominal price they paid for it.

Cllr Michael Crowe (FF) asked about if the ownership agreement with the County protected the interests of the city, which seemed to have given “carte blanche” to the county in how it was managed.

Interim Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Patricia Philbin, said the City Council had not been approached about buying out the airport and it was her understanding that any valuation of the asset would be at today’s value rather than what was paid by the local authorities in 2013.

She promised that city staff would attend any future meeting held in relation to the airport and vowed to raise the councillor’s comments with her county counterpart.

Ms Philbin told the meeting that the heads of agreement currently in place would be examined to see if it needed to be revised to give additional powers to the City Council.

A masterplan for the site was currently being drawn up.

“Any disposal of the airport is a matter for the elected members.”

Councillors were told that a final figure on what the promoter MCD would be charged to hold concerts at the Carnmore site had not been agreed.

Gary McMahon, Head of Economic Development, Community and Culture, said any such figure would not come before councillors as it did not involve a sale but rather rental.

Rental from the HSE for its use as a testing centre was used for essential maintenance and any money received from the concerts would be used to defray shared costs – previously estimated at around €50,000.

So far Madness, the Waterboys, Pixies, the Wolfe Tones, The Coronas, Two Door Cinema Club, Belters Only and Fatboy Slim have been announced for the airport gigs next summer.

Pictured: At loggerheads: Galway County Council Chief Executive Liam Conneally and his City Council counterpart, Patricia Philbin.

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