Laois County Coucil HQ
Laois councillors were at odds recently over whether to make their decisions on civic receptions public, with concerns that refusals will “create problems in the community”.
Fine Gael Cllr Willie Aird wants to be given a list of all requests before their monthly meetings, after he found out too late that a request for a civic reception to honour Portlaoise GAA club was turned down privately by the small committee of councillors in charge.
A smaller reception will instead be held at the Portlaoise municipal district meeting.
“I want to know when someone in my community writes in to ask. I want to be in a position to say yes or no, let the council who is elected decide, not three or four people upstairs, dictating whether one goes ahead or not. It’s not fair. It’s totally disappointing,” he said.
Portlaoise Labour Cllr Noel Tuohy seconded his motion.
“We’re the elected people, we should make the decision,” he said.
However Portlaoise Fianna Fáil Cllr Jerry Lodge is concerned that the honour would diminish in stature.
“Nobody is going to turn it down at a public meeting. These receptions must be of great merit, you don’t want to give them away too easily. You’re making it public the people who didn’t get there. That creates problems in the community,” he said.
Cllr Paschal McEvoy agreed with Lodge.
“Any decisions by the group were made fairly, for the right reasons. I put one forward for Portarlington Lions Club and it was put forward to our district meeting instead, I accepted it, its how democracy works,” he said.
“Behind closed doors,” added Cllr Aird.
Sinn Féin Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley saw both sides.
“I don’t believe the decision should be done in public, but at the same time, we have no idea what’s going before the CPG. I don’t think it’s unreasonable if we get correspondance to say what’s going before them,” she said.
After a final long speech by Cllr Aird, it was agreed that notice of every request will now be sent in monthly correspondence to the 19 councillors.