Tuesday 17 October 2017

We voted for jobs and we'd do same again, say councillors

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

AT a meeting of Waterford County Council in May 2008 the rezoning of lands near Dungarvan was put to a vote.

The council voted in favour of the rezoning proposal by a majority of 13 to eight, despite repeated warnings from planning officials and then Environment Minister John Gormley that it would be a bad planning decision.

The Irish Independent asked each councillor who backed the rezoning to explain their decision.

Here is what they had to say on the rezoning and on Fred Forsey:

Brendan Coffey (FG)

On rezoning: "My conscience is clear. I know I went against planning guidelines and that wouldn't adhere to best practice but I did it for the best of intentions (jobs)."

On Fred Forsey: "I believe in the rule of law. He was brought before the court and found guilty of corruption. Let the law take its course."

Declan Doocey (FG)

On rezoning: "We were after having a haemorrhaging of jobs with the closure of Dungarvan Crystal and jobs going in Glanbia. If it was up again in the morning, I'd do the same."

On Forsey: "I am disappointed ... but we (Irish State) had bigger sinners."

Nora Flynn (FG)

On rezoning: "I voted for jobs"

On Fred Forsey: "No comment" Mary Greene (FG)

On rezoning: "John Gormley seemed to be very much pushing a Dublin agenda to us rural councillors."

On Forsey: "Fred Forsey did not contact me in advance (of the vote)."

Tom Higgins (ex-FG, now Independent)

On rezoning: "No comment. I just don't feel like it (answering questions)."

On Forsey: No comment. I just don't feel like it (answering questions)."

Pat Nugent (FG)

On rezoning: "I am closest to the site and I pass out the road every day. Hundreds of jobs went -- 400 in Glanbia, 395 in Dungarvan Crystal, then 70 or 80 in Century Homes. It was a hard decision to go against the management of the council -- it was the only time I ever did it -- but it was for the promise of jobs."

On Forsey: "I feel sad about it. I do (feel sorry for him) because I know the families. His father, Fred Snr, taught me to drive."

Lola O'Sullivan (FG)

On rezoning: "It was because of the jobs. For me, the main thing was to bring industry into Waterford and to get a better rate base for the council."

On Forsey: "The jury found him guilty, he deserves to be sentenced. You can't take a bribe and think it's okay."

Elaine Leahy (FF)

On rezoning: No comment

On Forsey: No comment

Tom Cronin (FF)

On rezoning: "For jobs and for jobs only."

On Forsey: "I am not judge and jury. If he took money to do something, he shouldn't be doing, well then ... whatever happens, he deserves everything he got. It was totally wrong of him."

James Tobin (FF)

On rezoning: "I did it because I am pro jobs. It was to create up to 200 jobs."

On Forsey: "On a human level, I am sorry for him."

Ciaran O Riain (FF)

Could not be contacted

Kevin Wilkinson (FF)

Could not be contacted

Dan Cowman (FF)

Now deceased

THE VOTE

For: Brendan Coffey (FG), Dan Cowman (now deceased FF), Tom Cronin (FF), Declan Doocey (FG), Nora Flynn (FG), Mary Greene (FG), Tom Higgins (FG, now Independent), Elaine Leahy (FF), Pat Nugent (FG), Ciaran O Riain (FF), Lola O'Sullivan (FG), James Tobin (FF), Kevin Wilkinson (FF)

Against: Ger Barron (Lab), Liam Brazil (FG), John Carey (FG), Billy Kyne (Lab), Brendan Mansfield (SF), Paddy O'Callaghan (Lab), Ann-Marie Power (FG), Teresa Wright (Lab)

Absent: Damien Geoghegan (FG), Pat Daly (FF)

Irish Independent

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