Members of the Adare-Rathkeale municipal area
WE thought it had all been agreed, that the big negotiations between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail had sorted everything out and all the councillors had to do was turn up.
But when the six Adare Rathkeale councillors met this Tuesday for the first time since the elections, a question mark hung in the air about who would be the new cathaoirleach, and the mood, like the weather, was less than sunny.
Cllr Stephen Keary was not happy that no “normal” business was on the agenda as had always been the case in the past with agms.
“I don’t understand why it is being discontinued,” he said. There were other “deficits” that needed to be stepped up and improved, he added before he was interrupted, prompting a swipe against bad manners and a dress code.
“We should have a dress code,” he asserted. Some councillors looked a bit puzzled. Was it Cllr Emmett O’Brien’s cargo shorts that were at fault? Or Cllr Richard O’Donoghue’s chinos?
Earlier, despite the absence of a “normal” agenda, outgoing chairman Adam Teskey had complained about the lack of grass-cutting along the N21 which was giving rise to junctions with no sight lines and reflective bollards being covered up. “If we don’t do something about this, there will be fatalities,” he warned.
Cllr O’Donoghue agreed, citing a dangerous junction where, despite three requests from him to cut back the hedges, accidents had happened. Hedges and trees are closing in, he argued, forcing big vehicles to drive down the centre of country roads.
Cllr Kevin Sheahan also saw his chance to raise an issue, emphasising the danger posed for cars trying to exit from a back lane in Adare. Lose one parking space, he argued, and create a sight line. There are several areas of danger trying to access the main road, new councillor Bridie Collins said, asking that they also be taken into account.
Then, while the going was good, Cllr Emmett O’Brien queried why the pedestrian crossing in Pallaskenry had been sited so close to Nash’s cross. Who authorised it? Why put it in that particular site, he wanted to know.
“That particular pedestrian crossing seems to have fallen out of the sky,” Cllr Sheahan declared.
And then, like something “fallen out of the sky”, the councillors “retired” to the privacy of the lobby, leaving officials and media wondering and waiting.
Was the Fine Gael/ Fianna Fail deal about to be busted? The agreement that was to give Fianna Fail the chair of the district for three of the five years? When the councillors returned, they were transformed, all trace of tetchiness gone.
Cllr Kevin Sheahan, now the father of the council with 34 years service under his belt, was proposed as cathaoirleach by Cllr Collins, seconded by Cllr Teskey and agreed unanimously. Cllr O’Brien was proposed as leas-cathaoirleach by Cllr O’Donoghue, seconded by Cllr Keary and agreed. The first meeting of the five year term of office of the Adare Rathkeale Municipal District ended with smiles.