The Mayor of Thurles Cllr Michael Cleary (Fine Gael) has been accused of abusing his position following his refusal to take a vote on a motion of no confidence in his party colleague, Minister for Health James Reilly TD, at the monthly meeting of the Town Council this week.
The vote of no confidence had been proposed by Councillor Jim Ryan and seconded by Councillor David Doran who labelled the Minister “a disaster”. But, Mayor Cleary refused to hear the proposal and urged Thurles Town Clerk Mr Michael Ryan to ‘move on” with the agenda, much to the chagrin of the two councillors who felt that a legitimate proposal had been tabled and seconded.
Cllr Ryan had raised the matter and took issue with the Minister over the E130 million cutbacks in the health budget; the 600,000 hours of home help, care for the elderly and agency staff which are to be lost; and the controvertial resignation of the former head of the HSE during the summer.
“All of this is having a very severe impact on the most vulnerable people in our society. We are seeing this in Thurles where the Minister promised to restore 22 beds in the Community Hospital of the Assumption, but then renaged on his promise. He has lost the support of the people around here and he has the support of his back benchers. The cutbacks are a disgrace and the lies he has told to the Action committee are shocking. I am proposing a vote of no confidence in Minister Reilly because he is a joke at this stage,” and angry Cllr Ryan stated at the meeting.
Councillor David Doran immediately seconded the vote of no confidence, but Mayor Cleary would not allow the matter to go to a vote. He clashed with Cllr Ryan who accused him of abusing his position - a perfectly legitimate proposal was on the table and the Mayor was ignoring it, Cllr Ryan said.
Mayor Cleary replied that the proposal had not been seconded, but Cllr Doran interjected and said that he had seconded the proposal. “If you didn’t hear me, I’m seconding it now, so you can deal with it,” Cllr Doran said.
“Move on,” Mayor Cleary directed the Town Clerk, but Cllr Doran replaied “What are you afraid of Mayor? What is your problem with the proposal?”
No other councillor got involved in the debate and Cllr Ryan said that he was taking this to mean they supported the vote of no confidence. However, Cllr Michael Grogan piped up and said that the proposal should not be taken as unanimous and if it had gone to a vote he would have voted against it.
Cllr Ryan told The Tipperary Star, “I am very angry at the manner in which the Mayor has abused his power. I am still of the view that the proposal has been passed, because it was proposed and seconded and nobody spoke up against it. The silence from the Government supporting councillors was deafening and it is my view that they have lost confidence in the Minister as well, otherwise they would have spoken up. I want to have this matter clarified at the next meeting because I am not one bit happy at the way the Mayor handled this. Attempts by him to cut me short and then not allow a vote, for no reason, is just not on. It is an abuse of power,” Cllr Ryan said.
Cllr David Doran, who is also a member of the Community Hospital of the Assumption Action Committee added that he had seconded the proposal on the grounds of how Minister Reilly has treated the Thurles hospital. “He has been given ample opportunities to rectify the situation and to keep his word, but he has lied barefaced to us all. I have to say that it looks very bad for the Fine Gael Mayor of Thurles to be refusing to allow this proposal to be tabled, in light of what is happening in the hospital. It is an abuse of power and I am also disappointed with the other councillors that they didn’t have the courage to stand up for their community. There is no point in standing up to fight for the hospital but then refusing to condemn the person responsible for closing the beds. That’s a bit hypocritical and I would ask again, what are they afraid of? At a time when a bit of political courage is required, their silence has been deafening,” Cllr Doran said.