Online abuse over Kinsale funfair row 'led councillor to seek medical help'

Cork County Council meeting told of online vitriol following plans to remove historic funfair from town
Online abuse over Kinsale funfair row 'led councillor to seek medical help'

Brendan Piper, Piper's Fun Fair Kinsale with the showman's wagon currently being kept at his home near Glandore, Co. Cork. Picture: David Forsythe

A Kinsale-based Fine Gael councillor has said the abuse he has received on social media over controversial plans to remove a historic funfair and showman’s wagon from the town has led him to seek medical assistance due to the strain of the situation.

Cllr Kevin Murphy told the recent meeting of Cork County Council’s Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District where the matter was discussed that he has had to go for health checks over the last few weeks as a result of the online abuse he suffered.

“I’ve gone for health checks over the last three weeks or a month and that’s a scurrilous thing to happen to any person and particularly an elected member. So really and truly it’s had an affect on me and other members as well the same way too,” he said.

“I’ll take the brunt of it, I’m a big boy but my health mightn’t be so good. So be very careful as I said it has already taken a toll on some of us and do not leave it continue,” he added.

His party colleague and fellow Kinsale councillor Marie O’Sullivan agreed that there had been vindictive online attacks over the issue.

“There have been very very vindictive attacks on persons over the past couple of weeks and it’s just not on,” she said.

“We are there to support the people, I’m here on the side of the street with my door open seven days a week and I really feel aggrieved by the attacks on social media on some of the members here over the past weeks. 

We’re here for everybody and we had no decision on this, there is a lot of misinformation out there and I feel a lot needs to be clarified.

The issue was discussed at the meeting following a large public rally on Sunday, attended by more than 400 people, in support of the Piper family who run the funfair. 

 The large crowd who turned out at the rally in support of Piper funfair family. Picture: Dan Linehan
The large crowd who turned out at the rally in support of Piper funfair family. Picture: Dan Linehan

Protesters are calling on Cork County Council to allow the traditional showman’s wagon to remain in Kinsale and to reduce charges to enable the fairground to continue in the town at the same site it has occupied for almost 90 years. 

An online petition in support of the funfair has attracted more than 2,200 signatures and the issue has even drawn the support of the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who in the Dáil last Wednesday urged Cork County Council to “have a heart” and allow the wagon to remain in its traditional parking spot.

Seeking a compromise

Speaking at the meeting, independent councillor Alan Coleman proposed that chairperson Cllr John O’Sullivan would meet with council officials and the Piper family to initiate talks in an attempt to find a compromise.

Council senior executive officer MacDara O’Hici said that as legal discussions were under way it would not be appropriate to discuss the issue in public.

“The council have been officially corresponding with the family through their solicitor, that’s the best line of communication, to keep that open, that’s what we’d be recommending as the best way to carry on with it,” he said.

Cllr Alan Coleman said that councillors would have to intervene due to the level of public interest in it.

Cllr Murphy said members must be kept informed and that had not happened so far.

It was agreed that chairman Mr O’Sullivan would hold an initial meeting and report back to councillors in due course.

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