Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley
The latest Galway City Council meeting ended in such chaos that a question mark hangs over decisions taken at the end of proceedings.
The meeting, which started at 2.30pm, was due to finish at 7pm, but midway through councillors agreed to suspend standing orders, take a tea break around 6pm-ish, and finish at 7.30pm.
This suited the Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, who had a 7.45pm function to attend afterwards; and the Fianna Fáil councillors – Mike and Ollie Crowe and Peter Keane – who had a party meeting at 8pm.
But when 7.30pm came around the Mayor, Niall McNelis, wanted to extend the meeting again by 15 minutes.
Brendan McGrath was reluctant – 15 minutes, after all, is never 15 minutes when it comes to Council meetings.
Ollie Crowe was having none of it, either.
Mayor McNelis ploughed on regardless and attempted to take notices of motions. Ollie became irate. “You said we’d finish at 7.30pm, and it’s now 7.32pm,” he roared.
Mayor McNelis was undeterred. Ollie got angrier. Just to emphasise that he was not allowing the meeting to proceed past the deadline, he stood up and put on his jacket indicating he was ‘good to go’.
“Don’t be pandering to other councillors,” Ollie told the Mayor, and reiterated that the meeting had officially ended at 7.30pm.
There was commotion on all sides of the chamber. Some councillors upped and left. Others were packing their bags readying to go. More were trying to get their notices of motion agreed. Chaos reigned.
Colette Connolly (Ind) had a motion she wanted passed, and was willing to have it voted on, without debate. No can do, said the Mayor. As a sop, he agreed to put it as the first item of the agenda of the next meeting.
The Shinners – Mark Lohan and Maireád Farrell – also had a motion, and were willing to take it without debate. This one related to the housing crisis. It wasn’t accepted, the Mayor said, but it too would be first on the agenda next time.
Interestingly, during the ruckus, Mayor McNelis managed to get a proposer and seconder to agree item eight on the agenda: approving attendances at conferences and training courses in November, for which, incidentally, councillors are reimbursed with expenses.
Leaving aside the fact that a vote approving attendance at conferences took precedence over a notice of motion about building affordable homes – which sends out all the wrong signals – the validity of that vote is now in doubt because it took place after 7.30pm, when the meeting officially ended.