| 5°C Dublin

Remark leads to walk-out


Joan Martin

Joan Martin

Joan Martin

A councillor who sparked an unprecedented walk-out of council officials from a meeting, has been accused of 'putting electoral interests ahead of public service.'

At the February meeting of Louth county council on Monday, Cllr Imelda Munster inferred the five directors of service in the local authority are not doing their job.

The Sinn Fein representative, who is an odds-on shot to become the Louth constituency's first female TD, was debating a motion she put down, calling on the chief executive Joan Martin to appoint a director of service for Drogheda.

In a written reply, Ms Martin ruled the motion out of order, stating staffing issues are an executive function. Furthermore, any resolution passed would be null and void

However, Cllr Munster remarked she was going to ignore the response and deal with the motion.

She said the lack of a director in Drogheda 'is lending itself to all the problems we experience, day-in, day-out.

'We shouldn't have to battle for one (a director). It's about showing an interest in the town.

'I can't state enough how important this role is.'

Chairman, Peter Savage pointed out there is no director of service for Dundalk, and he added the motion suggests the existing directors of service are not doing their job.

When Cllr Munster intimated that perception is out there, one of the directors at the top table, Frank Pentony, said he objected to that comment from a personal point of view, and asked her to withdraw it.

That didn't happen, and the chief executive and all officials walked out of the meeting, as did the Fine Gael and Labour councillors, as well as two Independents.

Cllr Mark Dearey then asked what was the status of the meeting.

The chairman replied he was entitled to continue, but noted the members who left would have been better off staying and voting against the motion.

Cllr Munster said no insult was meant, but Cllr Peter Savage replied she went too far.

Cllr Mark Dearey, who after the meeting accused Cllr Munster of putting electoral interests ahead of public service, asked her to withdraw 'any comment that may have caused offence' in order to get the officials back and continue with the business of the meeting.

Cllr Munster said it was not her intention to personalise anything.

She added there is a perception out there, that there is 'no co-ordination or management' of the five directors of service.

'Will you withdraw whatever might have caused offence?, asked chairman, Peter Savage.

'If anything I said offended anyone, then I didn't mean it.

'I will withdraw it, if it caused offence,' said Cllr Munster.