Changes to ensure council meetings not disrupted by non-agenda matters
Amendments have been made so Wicklow County Council meetings aren't dominated by requests for a suspension of standing orders in order that matters not on the agenda can be discussed.
The changes were considered and accepted by the protocol committee before coming before the full council chamber at last Monday's meeting.
Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Pat Vance, said the amendments were needed so meetings run more smoothly.
'It's not unreasonable. Any suspension of standing orders request should be in writing before 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting. It can even happen during a meeting where possible. It is just to streamline things. Currently with suspensions of standing orders, we spend 10 minutes discussing them, then another 40 minutes discussing whether we should have it or not. All the while we are missing out on items on the agenda,' said Cllr Vance.
However, Cllr Joe Behan didn't support the changes.
'Why give up a power we have to propose suspension of standing orders if we need to do so? I know the Cathaoirleach has said he will be accommodating but he won't always be in the Cathaoirleach chair'.
Councillors Tommy Cullen and Vincent Blake understood the need for the amendments.
'We used to get requests for suspensions of standing orders two to three times a year. Now it is more like three to four times a meeting. It is disrupting meetings and I think some people are using it to jump the queue a bit,' said Cllr Cullen.
'It used to be only a few times a year but in the last few years there has been a raft of suspension of standing orders. The first half hour of every meeting is left to discussing suspensions of standing orders. The situation had to be addressed and if there are any problems we can always come back and readdress things'.