CLARE County Council members have rejected the offer of meeting with Irish Water officials on a one-to-one basis.
Instead, after protracted debate this week, councillors insisted that they would meet, as a group, with Irish Water at 10am next Monday in the council chamber, with the public and media present. From 11am, councillors would have the opportunity to meet privately with Irish Water if they want to. It was also suggested that the various municipal districts could meet with Irish Water to discuss capital projects in their respective areas.
Monday’s adjourned county council meeting had heard that the proposed “clinic” with Irish Water would consist of six and a half minute, one-to-one meetings between each of the 28 councillors and the Irish Water delegation. However, on Monday, Councillor Cathal Crowe said if the councillors were denied the opportunity to meet in public and as a group with Irish Water, they should not meet them at all.
On Wednesday, Councillor Gerry Flynn insisted that the proposed meeting take place “in public and not in camera”, while Councillor Pat Hayes concurred with this.
“I want Irish Water to be held accountable in a public chamber here,” Councillor Hayes said.
The councillors put forward a joint motion suggesting that the meeting take place in public, while councillors Joe Cooney and Johnny Flynn proposed a largely similar motion. They said they support the holding of a public meeting but that if Irish Water is not amenable to this, councillors should not rule out one-to-one meetings next Tuesday. The meeting also heard that further monthly meetings with Irish Water are likely and that these could be held in public, if next week’s meeting is not.
Several councillors spoke on the issue but Councillor Flynn said that a vote should take place, to decide if councillors agreed with his and Councillor Hayes’ motion or not.
“I ask that we either accept or reject our original motion. I want it put to a vote and I want the councillors named. Let the body of the council decide,” he said.
Eventually, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, John Crowe, asked for a five-minute adjournment to give councillors an opportunity to decide what to do.
Following the break, they accepted, without a vote, the proposal that the first hour of the meeting with Irish Water would be held in public.
However, some councillors, including Councillor Hayes, said that if Irish Water rejects this suggestion, councillors should opt not to meet them under any circumstances.
“If they can’t meet us in public, we shouldn’t meet them at all,” he said.
Director of services, Ger Dollard, who deputised for council CEO, Tom Coughlan, said county secretary, Michael McNamara, would contact Irish Water this Thursday and let them know of the decision taken. Councillors would then be contacted to inform them if Irish Water is agreeable to the suggestion.