SURPRISED colleagues heard Cllr. Mick O'Connell invite Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae "outside the door" of the Kerry County Council chamber during a rather heated discussion during which the expenses claimed by members were raised.
The Council was being asked to authorise the attendance of members of the Sheep Dipping Committee at a meeting in Clonmel of the Joint Sheep Dipping Committees of Cork/Kerry, Waterford and Tipperary South Riding County Councils.
Mr. Healy Rae referred to recent references to members travelling in joint committee meetings and said they did not travel on unwarranted journeys for the fun of it. When Colr. Danny Kissane was a member of the Sheep Dipping Committee he did not think travelling to meetings was a joke. He said the joint committee was doing an excellent job and he proposed the Council give full consent to allow them travel to the meeting in Clonmel.
"How many members are to travel to Clonmel," asked Mr. James Courtney, who was told by Mr. Healy Rae that all members of the particular committee would be expected to travel. Mr. Courtney expressed disagreement or dissatisfaction with the committee's policy. Mr. Eamon Walsh said the joint committee had carried out some wonderful work and many other counties had since appointed sheep dipping committees. The Council should remember there were some 250,000 sheep in Kerry.
Mr. O'Connell said the Council already made a financial allocation in the 1982 estimates for the sheep dipping committee. The County Secretary, Mr. Seamus Dooley, said a figure had been included in the estimates for travelling expenses, but he understood that this meeting of the joint committee proposed for Clonmel would be in substitution for one to have been held in Cork, so there would be a differential of about £150.
Mr. O'Connell said it was a new meeting. They all knew the meetings were a means of getting expenses and only for getting all these expenses for attending meetings, members could not balance their books. He felt there should be an allocation of a fixed sum, be it £1,000 per member to ease the burden on members for a year. He had recently passed through South Tipperary and did not see one sheep in the South Riding and wondered how many sheep were there.
Mr. Healy Rae asked Cllr. O'Connell to withdraw the allegation that members were attending meetings merely to collect expenses.
Continuing, Mr. Healy Rae said he would not sell himself to anybody for 30 or 40 pence per mile or be told that he was attending meetings for the purpose of drawing expenses.
"You can go to a place called hell," he said to Cllr. O'Connell, adding that he was surprised at the councillor to make such an allegation and asked him to withdraw it.
Mr. O'Connell said that he had stated he was speaking generally.
The two councillors involved were at this stage speaking at the one time, but Cllr. O'Connell eventually was heard to invite Cllr. Healy Rae outside the door of the chamber. Other councillors intervened in the heated debate, all speaking at the one time and eventually what had sounded like "frayed tempers" subsided.