Row over council plan to meet in city school

A ROW has erupted over plans to hold a local authority meeting in one of the country’s most famous schools as part of its bicentennial celebrations.

Opponents said agreeing to the move could turn Cork City Council into some form of roadshow or political bandwagon.

Lord Mayor Councillor Mick O’Connell told councillors at Monday’s meeting that the North Monastery, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary next year, has extended an invitation to the council to hold one of its regular fortnightly meetings on the school premises.

Mr O’Connell raised the issue with party whips at 2.30pm where some concerns were raised. He then raised the issue at a full council meeting at 5.30pm.

He said the school had made an extraordinary contribution to the sporting, political and cultural life of the city and suggested the council approve holding one of its March 2011 meetings at the school as part of the bicentennial celebrations.

“The North Mon will only celebrate its 200th anniversary once,” he said.

But Cllr Terry Shannon (FF) said agreeing to holding the meeting outside the council chamber would set a dangerous precedent.

“This is the chamber where city council meets. The idea that we would run a council roadshow is not something I want to see happening,” he said.

He called for further consultation among the party whips and said any such meeting outside City Hall would have to take place within specific and well-defined criteria. But Mr O’Connell pointed out that the cabinet has held two meetings in Cork city — one in City Hall during the 2005 Capital of Culture celebrations, and the other in Knocknaheeny in 2000.

Cllr John Buttimer (FG) said although the party whips had agreed in principal to hold the meeting in the North Mon, he said strict guidelines had to be agreed to prevent such a move becoming a “political bandwagon”.

Cllr Tim Brosnan (FF) said council should not leave City Hall for its meetings and that a facility already exists to invite people in to address council meetings.

But Independent Cllr Mick Finn said it is a good idea to hold council meeting in the community. Cllr Thomas Gould (SF) described it as a positive move.

However, Cllr Sean Martin (FF) said while the concept is good, it should not be done at the whim of politicians trying to “score points in their own parish”.

North Mon past pupil, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald (FF), shared reservations about the protocols governing the meeting, but said it would be a progressive step to have it in the school.

Cllr Mary Shields, whose husband is a past pupil of the North Mon, said while the school holds a special place in Cork city, council meetings should be held in the council chamber.

“There are other ways we can recognise the North Mon and its importance to Cork city. Once the precedent is set, we could be going out all over the place,” she said.


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