The five North Tipperary county councillors who walked out of the council’s budget meeting were criticised by some of their colleagues. The five - Seamus Morris, Hughie McGrath, Jim Ryan, Billy Clancy and John Hogan - left over Mayor Ger Darcy’s refusal to put a motion from Cllr Morris to the meeting to defer passing a budget until they had seen the proposed Service Level Agreement with Irish Water. The council will hand over its water services to the new body from January 1.
The Mayor had accepted a proposal from Cllr Denis Ryan to hold a special meeting on Irish Water in the new year and this was put as an amendment to Cllr Morris’s motion and passed.
Cllr Hogan had also demanded change to the way rates are charged but was told by Mayor Darcy that they could not change that. “I want to compliment the members who are here,” said Mayor Darcy at the end of the meeting. “We all differ on policy, but that is what real democracy is all about.”
He was supported by Cllr Michael Smith, who said: “It is regrettable that five members felt the need to leave. We all have concerns over Irish Water and the way the commercial rate is being worked, but we should separate local and national issues. They are out of our control.”
He was suppported by Cllr Micheal Lowry, who said decisions were being “made at a higher level”. He warned that if the council did not make the decisions it made at the meeting, “somebody else may come in and do it for us and they may not have their interests at heart. We are taking the responsible approach and protecting the people of this county.”
Cllr Seamus Hanafin agreed with Cllr Hogan that there was a need to base rates collection on affordability, but it was a national isssue. “We all have concerns about Irish Water and a having a quango of 300 people overseeing our services, but our responsibility is to deliver a budget,” he said.
Cllr John Carroll said the concerns of the five councillors could be dealt with an appropriate forum and Cllr Jim Casey said: “We could all turn the budget down, but that wouldn’t be responsible. We need to get away from the idea that the minority oppose everything.”