Public locked out of Cork City Hall for council meeting

The public was locked out of Cork’s City Hall last night after councillors voted to hold their bimonthly meeting behind closed doors for security reasons.

The last two city council meetings were abandoned following disruptions from protesters.

The making of the new city development plan 2015-21 was among several items on the agenda for last night.

Security was tight in and around the building ahead of the meeting, with security guards on duty and strict access arrangements in place.

Lord Mayor Cllr Mary Shields began the meeting by asking councillors to vote in favour of holding it in committee, but with the media still in attendance.

She said in the absence of an agreed system to manage public attendance at the full council meetings, the doors to City Hall would remain locked for the duration of the meetings.

Council chief executive Ann Doherty said she wants full council meetings to be held in public. “But I am responsible for the safety and welfare of people who come in here, and who work here.”

She added: “We need to develop a system to manage attendance in a safe way. We are on the road to that, but we’re not there yet.”

Most councillors expressed concern at the move to lock the doors, but accepted it had to be done for security reasons.

Cllr Terry Shannon (FF) said council meetings have been held in public in the chamber for 93 years, a tradition that must continue.

However, he said locking the doors pending an agreed solution on access arrangements for council meetings was “prudent” and urged all councillors to work with city management and agree a new access system.

Councillors finally voted 20-8, with one abstention, to lock the doors. They will spend the next two weeks trying to hammer out new public access arrangements.

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