DEPUTY Mayor Kevin Kiely has insisted everything was in order with last week’s controversial vote to allow a bus lane on Ballinacurra Road after Cllr Pat Kennedy accused him of “breaking the law”.
Chairing last Monday’s meeting in the absence of Mayor Jim Long, Cllr Kiely waved away Cllr Kennedy’s protests that the vote was unlawful. Cllr Kiely voted in favour of the plans, while Cllr Kennedy has been opposed to the bus lane since it was first proposed eight years ago.
After standing orders were suspended to allow the Council meeting to continue, Cllr Kennedy said a two thirds majority of members was required to allow this to happen.
“You are breaking the law,” he told Cllr Kiely as the chair proceeded with a roll-call vote.
Cllr Kennedy has since insisted that under the Local Government Act of 2001, suspension of standing orders was “subject to the requirement that at least two thirds of the members present vote in favour”.
Cllr Kiely said that this requirement applied only to changing the order of items taken as listed on the agenda. He had advice from city manager Tom Mackey that “everything was in order and completely legal”.
He added that when Cllr Kennedy made an eleventh-hour bid to amend the city manager’s recommendation the bus lane proceed, effectively scrapping it, he had “failed to get anybody to second him”.
“If I had allowed Pat Kennedy’s amendment it would have been voted down and it would have deprived other members of the opportunity to speak on an important issue. I try to be fair to everyone,” Cllr Kiely said.
Speaking after the vote, Ballinacurra resident Paddy Dalton, a solicitor, said “it sounds to me as if something irregular took place”.
“When Cllr Kennedy asked that standing orders be voted on using the two thirds rule, it sounded to me as if that was irregular. I’m not sure that was a valid vote. Maybe it was but it sounded peculiar,” Mr Dalton said.
In response, Cllr Kiely said “all proper procedures were followed and standing orders were complied with in full”.
“The residents put forward a very good case but as councillors we had to look at the greater good of the city. The residents say the bus lane will be unsafe but we had submissions from the gardai and the ambulance service in favour of the proposal,” he added.