AFTER scuppering the anticipated election of Patricia McCarthy as Mayor of Shannon last week, Councillor Michael Fleming was unrepentant when he spoke to The Clare Champion on Monday.
Councillor Fleming, who was the outgoing Mayor of Shannon, didn’t stick with an alliance involving Councillor McCarthy and his Fine Gael colleagues and this week he criticised them for not supporting him while he held the mayoral chain.
He also said he will run in next year’s county council election, if not as a Fine Gael candidate then as an independent.
Fine Gael Councillor Sean McLoughlin also spoke to The Champion and said he had given Councillor Fleming any help he had sought.
He said he was shocked that Councillor Fleming had made the move he did and if he had wanted to break the pact, the “honourable” thing to do would have been to split from it before he had benefited from it, rather than after.
For her part, Councillor McCarthy said she was disappointed with Councillor Fleming’s decision.
Councillor Fleming, who has recently started employment at the Oakwood Arms following a lengthy spell out of work, said there had been little communication with the other members of the alliance during his 12 months as mayor, while he said positions of responsibility should have been shared outside of the Fine Gael/McCarthy alliance.
“I asked two years ago or so that some of the positions would be passed across the table to the other parties and give them something out of the five years, especially when we knew it was going to be the last term of the town council, for fairness and a bit of sharing.
“I just felt it was fair to pass something across. There was nothing brought up about it. I hadn’t heard from any of my own party until the evening before the AGM. For the last 12 months I haven’t heard from any of them.
“During the year as mayor, none of them bothered to contact me and ask me how I was getting on. I got no support from them whatsoever. They weren’t prepared to give anything across the table. I had the final vote and that’s what I went with.”
On a more positive note, he said he had enjoyed the time as mayor. “It was an enjoyable year, starting off the morning after the election with a civic reception for St John’s National School, right through to the opening of Hasting’s Cottage, my trip to France with the twinning, my trip to Union County, New Jersey.
“I had a very good year and really enjoyed it. I did what I could for the town, went to America and sold Shannon and Shannon Airport as best I could. I just hope that the new mayor, and I have every confidence in him, will do the same.”
He said he felt the original agreement was already void as one of the original parties to it, Tony Mulcahy, has left for the Senate, while another, Mary Brennan, has left the Fine Gael party.
However, Councillor McCarthy certainly didn’t share his view. Speaking about the events of last Tuesday night she said, “When people give you their word, you expect them to honour their word. That’s the part of it that I found hard to take.
“No wonder people are losing faith in it [politics]. The one thing you have in this world is your word and if you can’t keep that and honour it and haven’t the courtesy to tell someone you’re not voting for them and tell them why…”
She had expected the alliance to hold and only found out shortly before the meeting that it would not.
Councillor McCarthy said she hadn’t been aware of any difficulty between herself and Councillor Fleming. “I’m not aware of any issue that he had with me or that I had with him. There was an agreement and I voted accordingly.”
Councillor Fleming’s party colleague, Sean McLoughlin, rejected the claims there hadn’t been support for him.
“From the day he was elected onto the council, any time he rang me for any advice or help, I gave it to him.
“All he had to do was pick up the phone and ask us what he wanted us to do and we’d do it. That goes for any mayor, not just Michael Fleming or a Fine Gael mayor, any mayor that has ever asked me for assistance of help, I’ve given it to them.”
He said he felt if Councillor Fleming had wanted to break the pact, the time to do it was before he benefited from it.
“I was surprised and shocked that he voted against Patricia McCarthy because he had accepted his own year as mayor. If you want to break the pact, I think the honourable thing to do would be to break it before you benefit from it.
“Even if there was no pact there, I think Patricia should have been the person of choice from all the councillors. She was elected to the first town council and every town council since and was the only one to do that. It would be nice to have someone like that to be the last mayor of Shannon Town Council,” he concluded.