Friday 20 April 2018

City council votes to scrap prayer ahead of meetings

Former mayor of Galway Padraig Conneely
Former mayor of Galway Padraig Conneely
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

One of the country's largest local authorities has narrowly voted to scrap the prayer - just days after the Dail voted to retain its own version.

Galway City councillors will instead take part in a moment of silent reflection at the start of their monthly meetings following the vote on Monday evening.

The move represents one of the first of its kind from a local authority.

The vote itself was tied at seven each - which put the onus on the council's deputy chairperson, Fine Gael's Pearse Flannery, to use his casting vote.

Despite his party colleagues earlier voting to retain the prayer, councillor Flannery used his casting vote to abolish it. This left the result 8-7 in favour of abolition.

The prayer itself that was abolished reads:

"We ask of you our lord a holy breath to us. To guide us in our actions and to grace us with your strength so that they can be finalised.

So that from new begins all our words and all our actions and through you they will be finalised through Christ our Lord."

The motion itself was proposed by councillor Colette Connolly, sister of sitting TD Catherine Connolly.

A number of councillors , including two Fianna Fáil representatives, were absent from the meeting.

Sources say if Fianna Fáil had all its representatives present, the motion would have fallen.

Former mayor of Galway, Fine Gael councillor Padraig Conneely, said the decision to scrap the prayer will be met with mixed views.

"I personally voted to retain the prayer as I felt it was all encompassing," he said.

Ireland is among a minority of European countries where a prayer is still read at the start of the day in political chambers, although similar procedures are in place in the US, Canada and Australia.

Last week, the Dail voted to retain the prayer , despite significant diverging views among TDs.

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