The lord mayor of Cork could face a vote of no confidence tonight, if he doesn’t issue a public apology for an unprecedented political attack on Sinn Féin.
Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon insisted he would not apologise for defending the office of lord mayor.
“I don’t know what I have to apologise for. I will defend the office of lord mayor from attack and I make no apologies to anyone for doing that.”
He was speaking ahead of what is expected to be a heated city council meeting this evening. It follows a scathing attack launched by Mr Shannon on Sinn Féin last week over commemorative plaques erected in the republican plot in the city’s St Finbarr’s Cemetery.
Mr Shannon said there were at least 16 unauthorised plaques in the plot, and he called on Sinn Féin to remove a plaque installed in 2001 honouring those who died on hunger strike, including Bobby Sands, and other prisoners who died in the H-Block. He pointed out there were many others honoured by the plaques who were not buried in the republican plot.
Mr Shannon accused Sinn Féin of taking over and claiming ownership of the plot, and went on to say:
* Sinn Féin’s political representatives are purveyors of poverty who do not want the tide to rise all boats;
* The party’s politics needs people “to be kept down”;
* They are “apologists” for the murder of gardaí, including Jerry McCabe;
* While Sinn Féin councillors in the south criticise local authority conference expenses, their northern counterparts “fly to New York first class and attend private parties in the Hamptons”.
It prompted Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman, Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien, to urge Mr Shannon to publicly apologise.
“He has sullied the office of Lord Mayor,” he said.
Sinn Féin leader on Cork City Council. Cllr Chris O’Leary said Mr Shannon had “over-stepped the mark”.
“The office of lord mayor should be apolitical. There is an opportunity for Mr Shannon to publicly apologise at tonight’s meeting,” he said.
“We will wait to see if that’s delivered. We are keeping our cards close to our chests to see what response he gives and we will make our views known afterwards.”
It is understood the party is considering tabling an emergency motion of no confidence in the mayor.
However, Mr Shannon stood over his remarks last night and insisted that he would not be apologising. He said he decided to speak out following months of sustained criticism from Sinn Féin.
He accused the party of releasing “inaccurate and misleading information” about a City Hall revamp, and of questioning the integrity of the office of lord mayor, and of certain councillors.
“There is an element amongst the Sinn Féin leadership that has, on a sustained basis, called in to question integrity of the office of lord mayor,” he said.
Meanwhile, City Hall is considering proposals to revamp the republican plot in time for the centenary of the 1916 rising.
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