Monday 20 May 2019

Going through the motions at speed

A political version of speed dating was presented in Carricklawn last week as cathaoirleach Malcolm Byrne looked at 20-plus motions on his agenda and reckoned he wanted home before midnight.

'I'll be ruthless,' said the soft-spoken chairman, attempting to cast aside his nice guy image as he decreed that no proposer of any motion would be allowed more than 60 seconds of speaking time. The result was a breathless charge through a bewildering variety of subjects, from cross-border cattle to the Gaza Strip.

The cattle were herded into debate by Cllr Oisín O'Connell who reckoned that livestock North and South should all be treated the same for labelling purposes. Even the late Ian Paisley would have agreed, he suggested. Certainly all the living Wexford councillors did - unanimous.

The student service charge of up to €1,430 being levied on craft apprentices exercised Cllr Barbara Anne Murphy. Abolish it, she cried, and everyone agreed - unanimous.

A 49 bed department of psychiatry in Ardkeen is not enough to cater for the acutely mentally ill among a population of 255,000 said an outraged Cllr Anthony Kelly. Wexford needs its own unit, doors open 24 hours a day - unanimous.

Vodafone and the ESB are spending €450 million on broadband and still not reaching New Ross or parts of Wexford and Enniscorthy. We want a 21st century network, of course we do - unanimous.

Local assessment beat faceless Dublin bureaucracy when it comes to social welfare applications, says Michael Sheehan - unanimous.

Cutting Government grants to Wexford County Council is a bad thing suggested Cllr Fintán ó Súilleabháin. Indeed it is - unanimous.

Revoke Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 - Statutory Instrument Number 9 - demanded Cllr. John Fleming. And so say all of us - unanimous.

The South East has a unique culture and could use its own long distance walk for hikers on the model of the Wild Atlantic Way, reasoned Cllr James Browne. Yep - unanimous.

And so it went on at breakneck speed, zig-zagging through a slalom of noble aspirations. Unanimous, unanimous, unanimous.

The breathless gallop threatened to end in a fall at the final hurdle, a motion from Tony Dempsey asking the Government to use its influence to achieve a political solution to the conflict in Gaza. With the finishing post in sight, chairman Malcolm said tiredly: 'I don't want a discussion about the Middle East.'

Cllr. Davy Hynes felt otherwise and began 'if the Americans would only tell…' but the rest of his reading of global affairs was lost in the hubbub of noise from all corners of the chamber and the meeting stumbled over the line with Malcolm declaring that the issue of how better to deal with motions would have to be sorted out in private. No more speed dating, in other words.

Wexford People

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