Sunday 20 October 2019

Reinstate old vote boundaries appeal to Phelan

David Looby at the monthly Wexford Co Council meeting

A delegation of councillors are to meet with the Minister of State responsible for the boundary shake up which saw the new Kilmuckridge district incorporated with Gorey - to ask him to revert to 2014 Local Government election boundaries.

Following a voluble two hour debate, councillors voted to scrap the changes made by Minister of State John Paul Phelan in December, when Kilmuckridge was moved from the Enniscorthy into the Gorey electoral area despite the findings of an independent commission - a move criticised by James Browne and Paul Kehoe, as well as Enniscorthy councillors.

Cllr Kavanagh proposed a counter motion, following chairman Cllr Keith Doyle's motion to move Kilmuckridge into the Enniscorthy electoral area which did not come before councillors.

Councillors discussed a letter from Mr Phelan in which he intimated how favourable he was to return the Kilmuckridge area to the Ennsicorthy district. Under proposals made in December Kilmuckridge was to be subsumed into Gorey electoral area.

Speaking afterwards Cllr Kavanagh said: 'All councillors had a say on it. From the tone of the meeting from the rest of the members they were very annoyed with the whole handling of the affair. I felt by putting forward the motion I was representing everyone's viewpoint and it proved to be the case in the end.'

Mr Phelan is due to make his decision imminently and Cllr Kavanagh is hoping he will make a special exception for County Wexford, allowing eight or more seat municipal districts to continue, when a limit of seven councillors per area is set out in Government policy plans.

'I have contacted him and he has indirectly gotten back to me to say he is open to meeting a delegation.

'The terms of reference limit is seven councillors per district and that is a conundrum for Wexford County Council as the bigger districts suited a county with four large urban centres. What happens now: is there a district manager appointed for Kilmuckridge and Rosslare districts also? Neither area has an urban centre. By doing this I am buying time to give members a chance to engage with the minister and to put our point across to him.'

If overtures to Mr Phelan fail, Cllr Doyle's motion will go before members at the March meeting of Wexford County Council to be voted on.

'The minister did indicate to me that he would look favourably on the decision taken by Wexford County Council. There were a lot of people very annoyed with the minister and with the divide up of the county and that came to a head at the meeting. I just felt it wouldn't be right to have councillors from New Ross or Wexford decide the fate of Gorey or Enniscorthy. As we have eight (councillors) in each district in Gorey and Enniscorthy the chairman (who is from Enniscorthy) would have the casting vote. I wanted to explore every avenue before I would push the nuclear button on it. The minister has asked the council to make the decision and I don't think that's fair. There are no winners in this.'

Gorey Guardian