Old split reignited over Turlough bridge debate
Two county councillors became embroiled in a vicious row when a debate about a damaged bridge in Turlough, Castlebar came up for discussion at a Castlebar Electoral Area meeting last Thursday.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was brought into the row by firebrand Independent councillor Frank Durcan who reacted angrily to a comment from the Taoiseach’s brother, Cllr Henry Kenny.
After a general comment from Cllr Durcan criticising government, Cllr Kenny said that he, Cllr Durcan, had been a member of the Fine Gael party not that long ago himself. Cllr Durcan left the party almost thirty years ago and relations between him and Enda Kenny have been strained ever since.
Raising his voice on several occasions to try to reply, Cllr Durcan eventually stood up, screaming, the anger in his voice clear to see.
“I have the right to reply. He [Cllr Kenny] brought up this thing of me leaving the Fine Gael party. I want to answer him. I never left the Fine Gael party. I left the Kenny party.”
Cllr Durcan then alleged that Enda Kenny’s dealings with him had left a lot to be desired.
Cllr Kenny accused Cllr Durcan of ‘bringing a personal vendetta into this’ and said there was no need for Cllr Durcan to raise his voice so much.
“Well I’ll raise mine [voice],” said Cllr Durcan. “I’m defending myself. Your brother has proven himself for everything I’m accusing him of.”
Cllr Durcan later went on to say that a ‘certain amount’ of councillors are ‘prepared to sell-out’ the people of Mayo and not support him, stating that they would pay for it at the next election. However Cllr Kenny rubbished the comments.
“I decry the fact that he says councillors elected the same way as himself won’t support him. I’ll support you if you’re reasonable. But you’re not going to be bringing up a vendetta every time you come into a meeting.
“It reminds me of Muhammad Ali when he was in the ring with the late Joe Frazier and in order to rise Joe Frazier he used to say ‘I’m God you know, you can’t hit God’. So Cllr Durcan would appear to be promoting himself as God, an expert on all matters suggesting to us that we’ll pay for it at the next election nationally and the local elections. He’s an expert in predicting into the future two years down the road who will be elected to Mayo County Council,” said Cllr Kenny.
In a stormy meeting Cllr Durcan also lashed out at council technical staff and claimed that planning in Mayo is ‘corrupt’.
The discussion centred on a damaged bridge in Turlough which needs repairing and which has been closed in the interim. Cllr Durcan said it was ‘ludicrous’ that a 41 page architect’s report on the ‘simple bridge’ was conducted by a company in Galway.
“It is ludicrous when we have 196 technical staff here. It is time we started culling them if we aren’t able to deal with a simple bridge on a secondary road. Any decent builder would have the job done in a week. If we cull staff, we’ll have money to do the job,” he said.
“Gentlemen [as he looks at the council officials in the meeting], ye should be ashamed. I don’t know how ye can face the public. Planning in this county is corrupt.”
He also accused the council of trying to close the road in question permanently, located beside Turlough Park.
Mayo County Council’s Castlebar Area Manager Seamus Granahan said that the Galway-based architects had to be hired because the National Roads Authority won’t approve funding for repairs unless there’s a certified report from structural engineers and that the cost of the report will be included in the council’s funding request. He also said that he ‘totally refuted’ the corruption claim from Cllr Durcan.
Senior Executive Engineer Patsy Burke said that the 120 year old bridge will be restored because it had become unsafe in the last three years.