MAYOR Gerry McLoughlin has criticised the “inappropriate” actions of anti-property tax protestors whose demonstration caused this month’s council meeting to be delayed.
Sixteen members of the Campaign Against Property Tax and Austerity marched into the council chamber ahead of the full meeting this Monday, and took up the councillor’s seats.
Styling themselves as the ‘New Limerick City Council’, the demonstrators said this should serve as a warning to government party councillors that they will lose their seats if they continue to support austerity measures.
As elected members arrived for this month’s meeting, they were left stunned to find the chamber full of protestors wielding red cards. During an impromptu meeting, the group introduced a series of motions, including to abolish austerity and get rid of junkets.
The group - which included former mayor Joe Harrington - refused to vacate the Chamber until they were acknowledged by the council.
As officials and councillors stood outside, unsure of what to do, it was left to manager Conn Murray to intervene.
Asked if he felt it was disrespectful of the demonstrators to occupy the chairs of the councillors and the first citizen, Mayor McLoughlin said: “Yes, I do. I don’t think it was necessary”.
“It was totally inappropriate of course, because it was in council time. They had no right to occupy the chamber in the way they did. They would have been very welcome to sit at the back of the Chamber and see how we conduct our business. It is important democracy and the rule of law should be upheld, especially in the City Council,” he said.
Mayor McLoughlin added that the council will have to be more vigilant in future.
He added that the household charge is crucial to run the council, due to the depletion of the Local Government Fund.
Mr Murray declined to comment when approached by the Chronicle.