Council bust up in debate on graves

Dónal Nolan

Mayor of Killarney Brendan Cronin walked out of a meeting of the municipal authority moments after accusing a colleague of 'showmanship' at a previous debate, as a fractious exchange around a previous crunch debate on the town's new graveyard site became increasingly bitter.

The bust-up occurred at last Wednesday's meeting of Killarney Municipal Authority in the Town Hall, sparked by Fianna Fáil Councillor John Joe Culloty's request to 'discuss best practice on part 8 planning' governing the construction of public projects by local authorities. In this case, Cllr Culloty was referring to a previous meeting of the Killarney Municipality where councillors voted five to three to provide a new graveyard at a site in Knockeenduff, just outside the town.

It was a vote taken after years of serious concerns - among the council and public - about the rate at which the existing cemetery in Aghadoe was approaching capacity. The council is now entering into negotiations on the compulsory purchase of the lands.

Cllr Culloty said he felt 'a bit insulted' when documents were passed around the chamber during the vote meeting - handed to engineers. The Kerryman understands the documents included an engineers' report commissioned by residents which raised questions about the suitability of the site.

He said that 'members giving out papers when the meeting is going on' was unacceptable, asking why they couldn't have been given out before. "The graveyard is a third of a kilometre closer to Killarney than the existing one, it's in the parish, there are no environmental issues...where this graveyard is being put is the only place is the ideal site," Cllr Culloty said.

Mayor of Killarney Brendan Cronin, chairing the meeting, concurred with Cllr Culloty: "Some of what went down at that meeting included documents being bandied about, I was thrown documents at that meeting, I understand where Cllr Culloty is coming from. That is not how we do business." He said he was not about to let the elected council discuss it again as the vote had been taken and the CPO process was in train.

Culloty's Fianna Fáil colleague Cllr Niall Kelleher identified himself as the councillor who had passed around the documents, saying quite emphatically: 'forgive me for having done my duty'.

"Don't start shouting at me. You were doing the showman," Mayor Cronin retorted.

"I did the showman? I'm very sorry if I did my job and found the documents that were publicly available."

"You walked around the table and produced documents and gave them to the engineers," Cllr Culloty accused his party colleague.

"You should have asked for one," Cllr Kelleher replied sharply. Cllr Donal Grady entered the fray as the Mayor threated to adjourn the meeting, accusing the Mayor of being the one to have started 'shouting'. 'You're not prepared to listen', O'Grady shouted as the Mayor walked out, adjourning the meeting.