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O’Brien challenges Hyland to put his name on the ballot paper


FIERY EXCHANGES Councillors Patsy O’Brien (FG) and Christy Hyland (Ind) had a colourful exchange at the Mayo County Council monthly meeting.

Westport councillor challenged after criticising homelessness situation in Mayo

Anton McNulty

A FINE Gael councillor has laid down the gauntlet to Independent councillor Christy Hyland to put his name on the ballot paper for the General Election if he feels so strongly about issues affecting the county.
Robeen-based councillor Patsy O’Brien taunted his Westport counterpart at last week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council after Cllr Hyland criticised the homelessness problem in Mayo and the country in general.
“I would like to say to Christy you never had a better opportunity than in the next couple of weeks. If you feel as strongly as you feel today you should put your name on the ballot paper and go out there and sell that message. The opportunity is there for you and you don’t need to be jumping up like the herring on the grill,” he said, before adding that he didn’t think Michael Ring would be ‘quivering in his boots’ if he did put his name forward.
In March 2018, Cllr O’Brien failed in his bid to secure a nomination to run as a Fine Gael candidate in the General Election. Hitting back, Cllr Hyland, a former Fine Gael councillor who left the party to run as an independent after losing out at a local selection convention, made reference to this and called on his counterpart to run as an Independent.
“Fine Gael left me, I never left Fine Gael,” he said. “They [Fine Gael] have done to you what they did to me. Stand up and come over [to the Independents] … there is no candidate in east Mayo.”
Earlier in the meeting Cllr Hyland described the homelessness situation in the country as ‘a crisis’ after the council adopted the West Regional Homelessness Action Plan, a strategic framework to address the prevention and reduction of homelessness.
The Westport independent said small scale landlords were being forced out of the market and young professionals were forced to live with their parents because they can not get a mortgage.
“Did I ever think in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, that I would see homelessness in this country. I didn’t. This homelessness crisis is going to get worse unfortunately. Small landlords are getting out of the market ... because they are taxed at 40 percent. We wonder why there is no properties to rent. By the time he is taxed and does improvements to the house there is nothing in it for them. At the same time the vulture funds are coming in and can go into cities and buy 50 to 100 houses at a time and what tax are they paying? Are they paying 3 percent? Absolutely ridiculous.
“We have a crisis and it is time we stop sitting on our hands. When you see people with good jobs in the private and public sector who cannot get a mortgage ... we were never there before, it is a disgrace,” he said.
He was supported by other councillors with Castlebar-based councillor Martin McLoughlin saying that he never thought he would see homelessness of this scale in Mayo in my lifetime. He added that children were growing up knowing nothing else than living in hotels and B&Bs.