Three Fine Gael members of Castlebar Town Council have launched a strong rebuke of their decision to meet with two leading IDA executives to promote the potential for job creation in the town.
Some non Fine Gael members of the authority expressed their anger that it was just a Fine Gael delegation of Cllrs Ger Deere, Eugene McCormack and Brendan Henaghan, together with Castlebar Town Manager Seamus Granahan, who brought the two IDA executives to the vacant Volex and APC factory sites and for a meeting in Breaffy House Hotel.
Cllr Ger Deere told the meeting that he wanted to clear up what had happened after other councillors criticised the trip in the local media.
He said that the meeting was set up by the Taoiseach’s office, where he works and that his connection there, Cllr McCormack’s role as Mayor and Cllr Henaghan’s role as a member of the Chamber of Commerce meant they were the best placed people to go.
“Councillors should be complimented for going after job creation. There was no intention to leave any councillor out of it and I’ll make no apology for the meeting,” said Cllr Deere.
However Cllr Blackie Gavin (FF) said he was ‘very annoyed’ that the entire council was not involved in the discussions and argued it was ‘time’ Fine Gael did something for the town.
“The IDA came in here and they ignored us. They should have come into this chamber to meet us and there should have been an itinerary about what to do. Certain councillors seem to be kept in the dark about what’s happening.
“There’s nothing but parties for people leaving this town. What ye (Fine Gael councillors) did here was disgraceful. It was a PR stunt by Fine Gael. It is time ye started doing something for this town,” he added.
In response, Cllr Deere accused Cllr Gavin of ‘contradicting’ himself as Enda Kenny had set up this meeting and was trying to do something for Castlebar.
“He invited the IDA here to try and get jobs here. We had nothing here for the last 14 or 15 years with Fianna Fáil. You just can’t win. What you are doing is the PR stunt. What would any outside investors think about us arguing here about who gets the credit. Let’s get real, let’s get jobs to Castlebar,” said Cllr Deere.
Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Eugene McCormack said that Enda Kenny’s position as Taoiseach gives Castlebar a ‘political advantage’ and that it is ‘our duty to take advantage of it in so far as we possibly can’.
In response to a comment by Cllr Frank Durcan that it was ultimately the responsibility of Enda Kenny to bring jobs to Castlebar and not the IDA, Cllr Brendan Henaghan replied: ‘we’re living in a democracy and Enda Kenny can’t just flick his fingers and send jobs to Castlebar’.
Cllrs Harry Barrett and Therese Ruane said that any initiative geared towards job creation was to be welcomed but that an official delegation should be sent from the council in future.
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