Editing of Limerick councillor's motion 'a serious issue for democracy'

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

Councillor Seighin Ó’Ceallaigh put forward his original motion following the World Barbeque Championship, which charged €10 for entry to the event in the People’s Park

Councillor Seighin Ó’Ceallaigh put forward his original motion following the World Barbeque Championship, which charged €10 for entry to the event in the People’s Park

LIMERICK City and County Council have launched an investigation after a motion put forward by a councillor was changed without his knowledge or consent. 

Sinn Fein councillor Seighin O’Ceallaigh previously put forward a motion at a meeting of the environmental strategic policy committee (SPC) that proposed that the Council would not allow public parks to be closed in order to benefit private, profit making events. 

However, it emerged this week that his motion was changed without his consent to include a what he described as a “loophole”. 

“You have an elected official who’s motion was changed. This is a serious issue for democracy if motions are being changed behind closed doors,” Cllr O'Ceallaigh said.

His original motion had been put forward following the World Barbecue Championship at the People’s Park in October, which charged €10 for entry, and the closure of Arthur’s Quay park to host Limerick on Ice, as he believes that the parks should be kept open to the public. 

However, it emerged at a recent meeting of the environmental SPC that Cllr O’Cealligh’s motion had been amended, without his consent, to include wording that would allow private events take place in public spaces  with approval from the Municipal/Metropolitan district level. 

“I’m not happy with this. Am I expected now to vote down my own motion?”  Cllr O’Ceallaigh asked.

“That line was added in and I think it defeats the purpose of my overall motion,” Cllr O’Ceallaigh said following the meeting. 

The edited motion creates a loophole to allow private events and defeats the purpose of the motion put forward, he added. 

“It has delayed my motion by almost two months now because it won’t be up again until the April meeting.” 

”Ever since day one of putting this motion forward, I’ve been up against a hurdle in terms of this ludacris idea that my motion will stop Electric Picnic coming to People’s Park, which is nonsense.”

”I’ve put a question forward asking if people have vested interests in this. If they do, they are expected to leave the Council chamber so I think I’m definitely within my right to ask that question.” 

“I’m elective official and this is a democracy. Maybe it was an error, I don’t know, but someone has to find that out because that wasn’t the original motion.”