VIDEO: Lord Mayor of Cork defends petition stance

A defiant Lord Mayor of Cork insisted last night that she will not accept an anti-water charges petition because it urges people to break the law.

VIDEO: Lord Mayor of Cork defends petition stance

Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Shields, whose term in office ends on Friday, spoke out after three water charges protesters targeted her home early yesterday before The People’s Convention mounted another protest outside City Hall last night.

It was the second time in two weeks that the group has tried to present the petition calling for the non-payment of water charges, which it now says has been signed by almost 16,000 people, to the mayor.

Her refusal to accept it two weeks ago prompted calls from the group for her resignation.

Spokesman Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, who failed to get elected at the last local elections and whose occupation of the council chamber earlier this year forced the abandonment of a council meeting, described her stance as “an insult” to the people of Cork.

“The petition calls on the council to stand with the people in calling for the non-payment of Irish Water bills,” he said.

“The Lord Mayor’s refusal to receive the petition is a disgrace and brings disrepute to the office of Lord Mayor.”

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He repeated calls at the protest outside City Hall last night for the mayor, and her deputy, Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn, to resign.

Ms Shields dismissed the criticism and said she stands over her decision. She said she will not change her mind despite the protest outside her home in Bishopstown.

Three people, including well-known protester John O’Donovan, stood on a green area opposite her house as she left for the first of her civic engagements. They did not try to speak to her.

Mr O’Donovan defended the tactic and said austerity measures have brought misery to the homes of millions of ordinary Irish citizens.

“It’s only fair that we bring our protest to the doors of our politicians,” he said.

Ms Shields said she was disappointed with the move, “It’s Irish Water, in my view, they should be targeting, if they want to target anybody, because the local authorities have no say anymore in water provision,” she said.

“It was a bit unpleasant, to put it mildly, to see people outside my family home, targeting my family home.

“The law of the land is that we pay water charges. Nobody likes water charges but it’s the law of the land.

“I don’t think the Lord Mayor has any business signing or accepting a petition telling people to break the law.”

Ms Shields’ term in office ends on Friday when Sinn Féin’s Chris O’Leary is to be elected Lord Mayor.

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