Tuesday 20 November 2018

Byrne and Allen exchange heated words over Showground plans Fianna Fail colleagues at loggerheads over rezoning

Colm Lambert Staff reporter

Tensions are at an all-time high this week between Chairman of Gorey Town Commissioners Malcolm Byrne and his senior Fianna Fail colleague Cllr Lorcan Allen, as controversy rages on over the proposed rezoning of the town's Showgrounds.

The two men exchanged heated words at a meeting of the party's PH Pearse cumann in Gorey last week, in a blazing dispute that embarrassed other members before culminating with Cmmr Byrne leaving the meeting prematurely.

His departure came before a scheduled presentation to Cllr Allen to mark his 40 years in politics, and was perceived by many as a deliberate snub to the veteran campaigner. Cmmr Byrne has insisted however that he had to leave early in order to attend a rehearsal for the upcoming Gorey pantomime, and that his early exit therefore had nothing to do with what may or may not have been said.

Meanwhile, the controversy was set to rumble on again last night (Tuesday), on account of a motion tabled by Cmmr Byrne for the monthly meeting of Gorey Town Commissioners.

The motion seeks to have the Commissioners 'call on Wexford County Council to ensure that The Showgrounds remains zoned as open space, for the benefit of the people of Gorey'.

He has explained the reason behind tabling the motion is to ensure that members can voice their opinion again at a public meeting, unlike the previous one, from which the press were excluded.

'The people of Gorey feel very strongly about this issue, and I feel it is only right that they be entitled to know how their various elected representatives feel about it too,' he said.

'The draft plan is a public document, and so discussion on it should be in public too. There should be no secrets about something that is so important to the long-term development of the town,' he added.

Cmmr Byrne accepted that is somewhat unusual for the sitting Chairman to table a motion, but pointed out that he is perfectly entitled to do so and also that a precedent exists even in the lifespan of the current make-up of the Commissioners.

'As long as there is a proposer and seconder, a motion tabled by anybody can be put to the floor. And a precedent exists because Cmmr Lorcan Allen tabled a motion with regard to third level education while he was in the Chair,' he stated.