By Paul Byrne
A crisis has been averted in the Louth County Council chambers after the majority of councillors changed their minds and decided to pass the budget for 2018 at the second attempt.
Two-weeks ago the vast majority of councillors voted against the budget with just the six Fine Gael representatives and Labour’s Pio Smith supporting the motion to pass next year’s budget. That motion was ultimately comprehensively beaten by 21 votes to 7 with disgruntled councillors apparently protesting not only about the budget but also a lack of communication from council officials. Sinn Fein’s Tomás Sharkey went as far as to call the council ‘dysfunctional’.
After the vote was taken attempts were made to adjourn the meeting to a later date but this idea was shot down by the majority of councillors present. This effectively meant that the powers of the council would be dissolved and handed over to Minister Eoghan Murphy if the councillors didn’t agree to resolve the matter within 14 days.
Last Thursday’s meeting represented a last gasp attempt to pass the budget before the matter was handed over to Minister Murphy, a move which potentially have meant that the councillors would be relieved from their position on the council.
At the meeting the budget for 2018 was passed at the second attempt with sixteen voting to pass it while 10 voted to reject it once more. All eight Sinn Fein councillors as well as independents Maeve Yore and Kevin Callan voted against it while the remainder voted to pass it. Following the meeting Green Party councillor Mark Dearey stated that many councillors agreed to change their mind and pass the budget following the promise of a new councillor sub-committee which would be set up with the aim of impoving communications and decision making.
“Louth County Council adopt budget at second attempt. The budget barely changed but the politics did. New Cllr sub-committee to be proposed at Dec meeting with eight weeks to work on improving decision making, policy input and communications. Executive fully available. We will see what emerges,” he stated.
He also hit out at Sinn Fein who he claimed “failed to recognise the progress collegial politics made at tonight’s budget meeting of Louth County Council. They scrambled for reasons to oppose the budget yet again. It’s so patently obvious that decent political decision making is “subservient to winning power.”
Meanwhile Maeve Yore who opposed the budget for a second time explained that she did so because of the reduction in funds to run vital services in Louth.
“For this reduction in funds and other issues I have already highlighted at last Budget Meeting I voted against the County Budget again tonight. SF – as always – voted against it also as did one other Independent councillor however it was passed by all other political parties. On a positive note the Cathaoirleach advised to explore better communication and better outcomes for elected reps/public and Council a sub-committee of party whips and Independent reps will be set up to be adopted at Dec County Meeting with 8 weeks consultation,” explained Maeve.