Sunday 24 March 2019

Bree's behaviour branded as 'inappropriate and bullying'

Clr. Declan Bree
Clr. Declan Bree


Councillor Declan Bree has rejected the findings of a report into allegations that he bullied staff at a meeting of the Borough Council, actions which led to a walk-out of officials.

The final report of the investigation, established following the walk-out of November 3rd 2008, has found that remarks made at that meeting by Clr. Bree in relation to the proposed funding of a footbridge from a private development at Swan Point to Markievicz Road were "inappropriate and bullying behaviour."

The proposal to fund the €1.3 million bridge was recommended to councillors by officials despite the fact it was part of the development's original planning permission granted on the 10th of November 2004 that the pedestrian bridge be completed and open to public access within six months of the occupation of any of the apartments in the residential building.

Comments which the independent councillor subsequently made in media interviews on the issue were also classed as inappropriate and bullying behaviour by the investigators.

In a letter sent to the County Manager, Hubert Kearns this week, Clr. Bree said he was not surprised by the outcome and that he stood over everything he had said on the matter.

"I was elected to represent the interests of the people of this community, to speak on their behalf, and I will not be censored or muzzled by formal investigations," he said.

Clr. Bree claimed he was refused the right to attend, to hear the evidence of the complainants or question them. He alleged there were also other shortcomings with the probe.

He rejected the report's recommendations including one regarding the role of the chairperson in future disputes.

"The fact is that a public representative who is elected as Cathaoirleach of a Council can only attain that important office by virtue of having the support, the confidence and the good will of the majority of councillors.

"A Cathaoirleach is elected to serve the Council and not to take instructions or orders from non-elected officials. The recommendation that a councillor who is elected to office by the people and then in turn is elected Cathaoirleach of a Council, needs to be "trained" by County Managers or senior officials, can only be described as incredible and deeply offensive.

"The recommendation that a "Standards Board for Ireland" be established with its own Chief Executive Officials and non-elected officials to "police" councillors is something which County Managers and other unelected officials have been seeking for some time.

"The recommendation that such a Board of unelected officials would have the power to suspend, restrict or disqualify elected councillors from office is repugnant to the very concept of participative democracy," said Clr. Bree.