You just never know when a council meeting can get stormy.
Cllr Peter Flynn (FG) argued making public on the council’s own website all payments received to councillors from outside bodies like the HSE and the Educational Training Board might be a step forward.
He said publishing figures earned might make a council seat a more attractive proposition, adding he wanted to see ‘the brightest and best’ sitting on the council.
It was a comment which clearly hit a nerve. Many councillors took it personally, inferring it meant they were not up to scratch.
Cllr Richard Finn (Ind) said the brightest and best were in the council chamber, voted in by the people.
It is true, the people had their say and elected the 30 councillors but from years covering council meetings you would sometimes have to wonder.
There are some very capable councillors, some decent ones and some underwhelming councillors.
We’re not sure how representative the chamber is however with just two women among the 30 and a good majority of councillors north of 50.
We couldn’t but wonder what new councillors, in their first full meeting, made of life in the chamber.
All through the meeting phones were beeping. Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Brendan Mulroy (FF) had enough and requested all councillors to turn off their phones. A simple request for the brightest and best.
“They don’t know how,” responded Cllr Johnno O’Malley.
Within two minutes, two phones rang, both belonging to Fianna Fáil colleagues of Mulroy’s. If you cannot get your own side to listen to you, what chance have you with the blueshirts Mulroy must have wondered.
You couldn’t but laugh though when Cllr Michael Loftus’s phone went off and revealed his ringtone to be Skyfall. To be fair to the Crossmolina councillor, his reaction was Bond-esque. If he ever appeared on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he would do well with Fastest Finger First.
Mulroy had enough though and felt it was time for some reverse psychology.
“Okay, could I ask everyone to turn on their phones so?” he quipped.
Elsewhere Gerry Coyle was on a roll. He slammed Facebook as Facelessbook over comments made by people on the site, said he would not be a happy camper if glamping sites were the subject of planning enforcement (we think the pun was deliberate but you can never be certain) before turning his attention back to May’s elections.
“Some people have to pay to vote,” he began. Where was he going with this, we all wondered.
In order to be eligible for a postal vote, people needed to get a doctor’s cert that they could not make it to their polling station, Coyle enlightened us.
“People fought for the right to vote. They didn’t fight for doctors to get paid to certify someone for a postal vote. I put in my expenses. Will I put in the cost of paying for two people to be able to vote?,” he wondered.
“Is that how you got in,” quipped Cllr Johnno O’Malley. Coyle had left himself wide open for that one.
Finn and Flynn got very animated in their debate late in the meeting. Mulroy remained calm while others were losing the rag.
“That bit of speed dating is over,” he said, ending the debate.
But he wasn’t out of the woods. The very last item on the agenda was to discuss changing the time of the meetings to earlier in the day. Cllr Patsy O’Brien wasn’t happy with it being discussed at the end of the meeting, saying ‘in 15 years I never saw a chairman pull a stunt like that’.
Mulroy had beaten O’Brien in a vote for Cathaoirleach and responded by saying ‘if that’s the best you can come up with I’m disappointed’, before telling O’Brien to ‘take a deep breath’ and ‘come off your high horse’.
Never a dull moment.