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Tempers flare as proposal for a pedestrian crossing in Stradbally gets out of hand

Whether it was the boredom of the past couple of months that was getting to them or the frustrations of lockdown, a right row broke out between councillors at the Graigecullen-Portarlington Municipal District meeting in Laois County Council this week.

And it came out of the most innocuous of suggestions.

The Stradbally-based Cllr Paschal McEvoy had proposed a roundabout at Court Square in the town at the new housing development.

Cllr McEvoy explained that some of the new residents in that estate will be elderly or with a disability and a simple pedestrian crossing would make getting across to the pharmacy and the doctor’s surgery a lot easier.

Cllr Tom Mulhall came in on the motion, supporting Cllr McEvoy’s proposal but saying that something also needed to be done to slow traffic down coming into the town.

As Cllr Mulhall addressed his concerns over the speed of traffic coming down from the Kylebeg area, Cllr McEvoy, who was chairing the meeting, urged him to move on as there was a long list of motions to get through.

Having earlier accused Cllr Mulhall of “going around in circles” he then said, “come on Tom, you’re a million miles away”.

What played out next was a heated and bizarre shouting match between Mulhall and McEvoy with Cllr Ben Brennan getting involved for good measure.

With Mulhall accusing McEvoy of not answering his phone or getting back to people, McEvoy barked across the chamber that “I got 600 votes in Stradbally last year, you only got 100”.

“I got 200 – how many did you get in Emo?” Mulhall barked back.

Cllr Ben Brennan then accused Mulhall of “coming up to my area and claiming credit for work”.

Mulhall then hit Brennan with the same claim as he had fired at McEvoy, that he wasn’t responding to his constituents.

“You’re a mouth,” said Brennan. “I’m a hard-working councillor,” said Mulhall.

But it calmed down as quickly as it had flared up and they got on with the meeting.

All is fair in love, war and the council chamber.

Even if it was all over a pedestrian crossing.

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