Donegal County Councillor Gary Doherty has called on the council to report to the government about recent disruptive incidents in the chamber.
Last Monday’s council meeting ended in chaos and was abandoned after heated exchanges between members. During an adjournment, Independent Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr allegedly took a phone from the hands of Sinn Féin Cllr Gary Doherty. When Cllr McBrearty was asked to leave the meeting due to disruptive conduct and disrespecting the Chair, he reportedly left with the phone.
Speaking today, Cllr Gary Doherty said he is still not in possession of his mobile.
He has called on the local authority to write to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and the Junior Minister with responsibility for Local Government and Planning referring to events in the chamber. He asked the council to refer to three principles of the ‘Code of Conduct for Councillors’ that he alleged were breached by Cllr McBrearty.
The code says that councillors should treat other councillors and employees with respect and dignity, they are obliged to keep faith with the public trust placed in them, and courtesy and respect should also be observed when using social
media channels, messaging applications and written communications.
Cllr Doherty said he is still “extremely angry” after the incident last Monday.
“I would like to point out that I still don’t have my mobile phone in my possession,” Cllr Doherty told the council.
Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr was not present at the special meeting this morning, which is discussing the An Crannla report into the purchase of five Mica-affected houses in Buncrana. The report was commissioned in response to allegations of systemic corruption made by independent councillors, Frank McBrearty Jnr and Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig. The external review cleared Donegal County Council staff from the serious accusations of wrongdoing.
Cllr Noel Jordan, among other councillors, called for a public apology to be made by Cllrs McBrearty Jnr and Mac Giolla Easbuig. He said the ‘antics’ in the chamber have been “totally inexcusable”.
“Now is the time for the council to move on and get our work done without any of this hassle. It’s a hassle to get into the car and come here and we have certain members who hold the council to ransom,” Cllr Jordan said.
Councillors have also called for an update on the expense of the report and the time taken to clear the name of council staff regarding the An Crannla purchase process.
In response, Chief Executive John McLaughlin said it would be very difficult to calculate the true cost of the investigations into the allegations. He said the cost would have to take into account ongoing legal cases, consultants and the “cost of a huge distraction for all the staff and the body here, and no signs of let up”.
Mr McLaughlin told councillors that “We are in this together, not of our own making, but in our duty to see it through.”
The meeting ended with a round of applause for all staff of Donegal County Council, which was called for by Cathaoirleach Liam Blaney.