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I've missed one council meeting in 14 years - when my son died. Everyone should be like that

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Sinn Fein Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke. Photo: Tom Burke

Sinn Fein Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke. Photo: Tom Burke

Sinn Fein Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke. Photo: Tom Burke

KEY meetings on issues such as the capital's development plan and the annual budget have attracted dismal attendance from councillors.

Many representatives are also failing to turn up at their local meetings – which are held to decide on matters that directly impact their constituents.

The Herald investigation today reveals:

  •  Just two city council meetings since 2009 have attracted a full attendance
  •  A councillor who resigned this month had missed a staggering 40 meetings since being elected
  •  Politicians are blaming their careers and busy family lives on missing key votes

The Herald has exclusively obtained the attendance records of all city councillors since the council entered session in June 2009.

We carried out an extensive analysis of councillors' attendance records at meetings held in City Hall.

These are the meetings that take place each month on matters relating to the city in general such as waste, transport, trade and the city's budget.

The Herald also analysed the councillors' attendance at local area meetings – 11 of which are held each year.

 

Careers

These are seen by many as crucial for getting work done on issues in each councillor's back yard as well as bringing local issues to the monthly city hall meetings.

In total 98 meetings, held since the new council was formed in June 2009, were examined.

Just two meetings – November 2010 and October 2011 – were listed as having a full attendance of 52 councillors.

And just two councillors – Christy Burke (Ind) and Larry O'Toole (SF) – have recorded attendance at all 98 meetings held over the past four years.

"I've been a councillor for 14 years and I've missed one meeting – and that was the day my son died. Everyone should be like that in my book, that's what we got elected for," Cllr O'Toole told the Herald.

Fianna Fail's Julia Carmichael, who quit the council this month, had the worst attendance record of any city politician.

Ms Carmichael, who had at one point missed 12 meetings in a row, said the council was "positively discriminating" against professionals.

"The times of these meetings positively discriminates against councillors who have their careers and it needs to change," she said.

"Talented people are leaving the council and that's very worrying.

"People would call me at 10-11pm at night and I take the calls but the council is not flexible when it comes to meetings," she added.

And the city's Deputy Lord Mayor, Clare Byrne (FG), revealed that she may not defend her seat as a result of the pressure the workload is placing on her family.

She told the Herald that, like many councillors, she has found juggling the position with a job and family "extremely tough".

"I don't even know if I will run again because it is such a massive commitment. My attendance was very bad for a period because I got married, suffered a bereavement and fell pregnant, all close to each other.

"But sometimes I wonder if we could get more young people into politics by making the council position a career. Because juggling my family life, my work commitments and the council is very difficult."

noconnor@herald.ie


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