Home News Council DUP jibe taken as a slur at Laois meeting

DUP jibe taken as a slur at Laois meeting

The Chinese have a saying that there is nothing under the sun that is not political.

And so it is. Even the make-up of Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) on the Council.

When the matter came before the monthly meeting of the Council to finalise their make-up and membership, Cllr Aidan Mullins (SF) took another cut off the dominant FG/FG axis.

At previous meetings Cllr Mullins accused the ‘coalition’ arrangement of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of securing all the key Committee positions for themselves at the expense of blocking out Sinn Féin, Independent and Labour members.

The response invariably been, to the victor the spoils, the divvy up of positions is based on the numbers of councillors in each group in the aftermath of the local elections. That’s how the system operates.

However, when the issue of the SPCs appeared on the agenda again to formally ratify their standing orders and the nominations of membership from the sectoral interests, Cllr Mullins couldn’t resist another dig. And on this occasion he went one step further than before.

His remarks infuriated the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil councillors alike and as they demanded a retraction, Cllr Mullins wouldn’t budge, but rather repeated his remarks.

The meeting was confirming that the Chair and Vice-Chair of the four SPCs were Cllrs Paddy Bracken and John Joe Fennelly; Thomasina Connell and Mary Sweeney; John King and Padraig Fleming and Conor Bergin and Aisling Moran. The positions come with a small additional stipend.

The SPCS are broken down to cover Housing, Regeneration and Planning; Climate Action and Community; Transport, Environment and Emergency Services; Enterprise, Economic Development and Tourism.

“You are like the DUP here in this Chamber,” Cllr Mullins lobbed in his jibe.

“You’re one to talk,” came back Cllr Bracken, having none of it.

“You are all dinosaurs,” returned Cllr Mullins

Cllr Ollie Clooney took offence; Cllr Padraig Fleming demanded the comments be withdrawn; Cllr Aishling Moran took umbrage too but Cllr Mullins stuck to his guns.

“I will not withdraw anything, you are living in the past just like the DUP,” he repeated, just in case there was any doubt about what he meant. “This has been going on for donkey’s years, we’re side-lined and ignored, and that’s your style of politics.”

“And you’re Party is so inclusive and all,” Cllr Bracken again fired back.

“Brian Stanley was Chairman here as part of a pact with Fine Gael,” reminded the current Chairman, Willie Aird as to how the system works.

“We’re not talking about Brian Stanley,” Cllr Caroline Dwane-Stanley was put I the awkward position of entering the fray.

“Well I’m certainly not going to take any lectures from Cllr Mullins,” Cllr Bracken pushed back.

Cllr Mullins let off one more missive, telling Chairman Aird to “Cop on.”

“I don’t need you to tell me to cop on,” retorted the Chair as the spat fizzled out.

And there the matter rests, for now.

You’d nearly think there was talks of an election in the air…

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John Whelan has been a journalist, commentator, columnist, political analyst, campaigner, politician and publisher ever since he was 17. Having been Editor of the Leinster Express, Offaly Express and the Leinster Leader he has also contributed extensively on a number of issues to all of the country's flagship titles and programmes including the Irish Press, The Irish Independent, the Star, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday Business Post, The Sunday Times and Prime Time. He is founder of Communicate Ireland a PR, public affairs, event management and media services company. He is the author of the popular camping blog, Vanhalla - Camper Heaven.