Saturday 22 October 2016

Senator describes councillors' two hour-long seating arrangement row as 'completely pathetic'

Nial O'Connor

Published 28/05/2015 | 15:23

Lorraine Higgins
Lorraine Higgins

A Government senator has described a row over seating arrangements in the chamber of Galway County Council as 'completely pathetic'.

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Labour’s Lorraine Higgins said members of the public in Galway have been left 'gobsmacked' after it emerged councillors in the local authority spent over two hours disagreeing over seating. revealed yesterday that Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein councillors clashed over which party should occupy the far right hand side of the chamber.

The row broke out during the first meeting in the new horse-shoe like chamber, which cost €500,000 to refurbish.

Ms Higgins, who is Labour’s General Election candidate in Galway East, called on members involved in the row to “cop on”.

“With all the pressing issues in Galway, you’d expect better from elected representatives. The public are gobsmacked. It’s completely pathetic.”

Traditionally in Galway, this agreement has seen Fine Gael occupying the left hand side of the chamber with Fianna Fáil councillors sitting on the left hand side.

However, both parties are now in coalition in Galway and wanted to sit together.

But the row broke out after Sinn Fein's three councillors insisted on occupying the right hand side, to the disagreement of Fianna Fáil.

Sinn Fein argued that it required the right hand side because one of their councillors, Gabriel Cronnelly, has a prosthetic leg and needs the space.

Fianna Fáil said it would allow Mr Cronnelly to occupy the outside seat - but that his two Sinn Fein colleagues would need to sit elsewhere.

Sinn Fein disagreed, saying it was not willing to be split up in the chamber.

The discussions took place over two hours and eventually led to a Fianna Fáil councillor, Anne Rabbitte, agreeing to sit away from her party and in with the independents in the middle of the horse shoe.

Galway council officials are engaging with the parties in a bid to find a solution.

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