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Carthy vows to gatecrash Borough as officials go AWOL

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Cllr Ger Carthy

Cllr Ger Carthy

Cllr Ger Carthy

Repeated no-shows of council officials at the Rosslare Municipal District (RMD) meetings has left Cllr Ger Carthy vowing to gatecrash the Wexford Borough meeting this coming autumn.

The Housing Department's failure to provide a report on vacant properties in the District, combined with the absence of a representative from the Environment Section, left Cllr Carthy pondering just how he might gain an audience with members from each section.

'Maybe we have to go down to the Borough meeting to get the information, go down and sit in the public gallery?' he said.

'There's no Ken Jones from Irish Water, no Gerry Forde from Environment, no housing report. How many more times are we going to have to ask the Environment section to come here?'

Proposing that further meetings be suspended until a member of the Environment Department make an appearance, Cllr Carthy said these continued absences spoke volumes of attitudes towards the RMD.

'It's gone on and on and on. I'm not interested in the excuses. How many are in the Environment Department? Not even one can come up? What does that say for the treatment of the elected members of the Council? Does it say that the RMD isn't important? 'Were they at the Borough meeting, were they at the New Ross, Gorey, Enniscorthy meetings? Are we the poor relation? I don't see us as the poor relation. I see us as a substantial area.'

Stating that she shared his disappointment, District Director Annette O'Neill said she had previously received written confirmation from the Environmental Department that someone would be in attendance at RMD meetings moving forward.

'I'm disappointed myself, I'd received written commitment from Environment (that they would be here). I will say I hear your frustration. I take this personally aswell,' said Ms O'Neill.

The Director also confirmed she was 'really annoyed' over the Housing Department's failure to provide a report on vacant properties in the District, an issue which kicked off a heated debate among councillors, with Cllrs Carthy and Codd at the fore.

Upon discovering a report from Housing Director, Michael Doyle, hadn't been filed, Cllr Carthy said he wasn't 'putting up with it anymore'.

'We're now facing another month in relation to finding out about the houses, where they are, what needs to be done? Here we are again, four weeks down the line, no report. It isn't good enough,' he said.

'As a member of Wexford County Council, elected by the people, I don't expect to have to ask for a report again and it not be there the following month.

'Why are we always second-best across Wexford County Council? It isn't good enough, I'm not putting up with it anymore. If they haven't got the decency to send the reports over, let's not have the Rosslare meetings. Why there is such a reluctance to send reports out of the Housing Department I do not know.'

Cllr Lisa McDonald said this was an issue of 'respect and dignity' for the RMD and a matter which might require the Director of Services to explain how he sees the District going forward.

And Cllr Carthy said if the situation was repeated at September's meeting he would be forced to take drastic action.

'I'm going into the Borough meeting in October if I don't get the appropriate response in our September meeting, to ask questions to officals who don't have the respect to turn up here.'

A further concern of councillors was the inability to carry out maintenance work on existing properties, jobs which were being delayed due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Citing general maintenance jobs such as the repair of doors, installation of showers, Cllr Lisa McDonald said her constituents were 'being kicked to touch' when it came to having work done. In response, Administrative Officer Michelle Bridges Carley said that 'only essential maintenance' was being carried out at the moment, an answer which failed to appease Cllr Jim Codd.

'Can I get what the protocol is here?' he asked. 'I've requested maintenance men go out in houses in the case of Taghmon to do jobs, and I'm told that the family must move out of the house for a week while it's happening.

'Now I'm very much in favour of wearing masks and I'm very much in favour of people's health, but when I go into a shop no one moves out for a week. We've set regulations for ourself to stop any progress being made.'

Ms Bridges Carley said that 'in the majority of cases' people did not have to move out of their properties, and that it was dependent on the level of work required.

Suggesting that perhaps Cllr Jim Moore could provide a 'few spare camper vans' for people to stay in while their homes underwent renovations, Cllr Carthy said the District was already dealing with truckloads of applications for maintenance work and would face a serious backlog unless they began 'thinking outside the box'.

'This is not workable. We're going to have think otuside the box, there are other councils in the country which are allocating houses, they're pre-letting, they're contracting, letting staff in. And what are we doing? "No, you may move out for a week, and then we'll have to get accommodation for you and uproot the whole family."'

'They need a shower done, need disability access, what do we do? We park it all. We're no further down the line, we can't get anyone to go out.'

A relative newcomer to the Council having been elected last year, Cllr Jim Codd said he had quickly become attuned to the way things worked in the halls of Carricklawn.

'I wonder why this comes as such a surprise to Cllr Carthy,' he said. 'For the year I've been here so far, I firmly believe the tail wags the dog. This is representative of what happens, I've sent messages to officials and they haven't got back to me a month later, it's not everybody, but there are people missing in action. I rang last Friday afteroon to get through to a couple of departments, and I might as well have gone out the back of the field and shouted, no one came back to me. There's a culture of not responding. It's as clear as day to me after being here one year.'

Refuting his allegations, Ms O'Neill said it was grossly unfair to tar all staff at the Council with the same brush.

'I have to dispute that, it's not fair to the staff who work exceptionally hard here,' she said. 'The record will show the turnaround to responses is good, do not brand the rest of the staff, it's unfair.'

Wexford People