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Proposal for next council meeting to be held online

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Cllr Grace McManus

Cllr Grace McManus

Cllr Irene Winters

Cllr Irene Winters

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Cllr Grace McManus

Members of Wicklow County Council may meet virtually in July.

The June meeting of Wicklow County Council took place in Shoreline Leisure Centre in Greystones to facilitate social distancing.

It was the first in-person meeting of the local authority since March with councillors seated 2m apart in line with public health advice.

Wicklow County Council Executive Officer Lorraine Gallagher told members they had to meet in a physical space to conduct statutory business. There was a proposal to hold the July meeting by Zoom and the next in-person meeting of the council in September.

Cllr Irene Winters (FG) said she could see how difficult the set-up for the June meeting had been. She noted that it was important for councillors to meet either virtually or in-person if statutory business had to be completed.

Cllr Aoife Flynn Kennedy (FG) asked if outstanding motions can be dealt with during virtual meetings.

Ms Gallagher said resolutions couldn't be passed at a virtual meeting according to the advice received.

Cllr Winters asked if there were other alternatives.

Councillors were told the council did not have a space big enough to accommodate all members and comply with the 2 m distance. It was unlikely the space in Shoreline would be available in July. If the social distancing was reduced to 1 m, the meeting could be accommodated on the Claremont Campus.

Ms Gallagher said advice had been received that meetings were only to be convened for statutory purposes on health and safety grounds.

Cllr Gerry Walsh (FF) asked if the decision on the date and location of the next meeting could be delayed.

Cllr Tom Fortune (Ind) said a meeting was essential and suggested it take place on Zoom.

Cllr Vincent Blake (FG) asked if statutory business could be dealt with at municipal district level.

Ms Gallagher said there was no statutory business on the agenda for the next meeting at the moment. She suggested the municipal districts could hold virtual discussions and the council convene its next meeting in September.

Cllr Grace McManus said she was concerned that the public and the press could not observe virtual meetings.

'People want to see us take a lead. If people don't see us, that's a problem.'

Cllr Walsh said holding a virtual meeting if there was no statutory business would be a cost saving for the council. Other councillors also spoke in favour of holding a virtual meeting.

Cllr Winters called for a show of hands of those in favour of holding the July meeting virtually if there was no statutory business. 18 councillors present voted in favour of this with 11 against.

A meeting of municipal districts would be held first followed by a meeting of the full council if required.

Cllr Joe Behan (Ind) proposed a vote of thanks to council staff for facilitating the in-person meeting at the Shoreline Leisure Centre in Greystones.

Wicklow People