Monday, 08 November 2010 16:44
A political row has flared up over the Government's decision to amalgamate Mayo and Sligo vocational education committees. Fine Gael Councillor Michelle Mulherin accused Fianna Fáil elected representatives of 'talking out two sides of their mouths' in respect of the proposal. She made her remarks at a meeting of Mayo VEC after FF councillors Micheál McNamara and Blackie Gavin voiced their opposition to the controversial move.
Councillor McNamara said he was disappointed by the decision taken at Cabinet level.
He advised the committee members not to accept the move because they would be seen as 'back pedalling from the word go.'
"Our policy should be to stand up and fight for the retention of Mayo VEC because it is a success story. All of our schools and education centres are a credit. I know how hard the staff work because there is such a huge sense of loyalty."
Councillor McNamara also made the point Mayo VEC could make savings by reducing its number of monthly meetings.
Councillor Blackie Gavin admitted being 'outraged' by his party's decision.
"Enough is enough. The message has to go out that we must be allowed to stand alone. If we are made amalgamate with Sligo, then I would be very fearful the headquarters of the new VEC would be based in Sligo because of political considerations.
"We cannot allow Mayo VEC to be downgraded in any fashion," he added.
However, their comments drew a rebuke from Councillor Mulherin who claimed members of Fianna Fáil were not fooling anybody by distancing themselves from a decision taken by senior members of the party.
She fumed: "The country is on the verge of bankruptcy because of this party and I am fearful that decisions are being made for this government by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). That's the way it's gone.
"A whole culture and way of life is going to change because of the squandering of public funds that was allowed to go on.
"There was only one political party leading the way in that regard. That's why I am sickened to hear Fianna Fáil politicians talking out two sides of their mouths when it comes to cutbacks."
Another Fine Gael party representative, Westport Councillor Christy Hyland, launched an attack on what he described as 'the cute-hoorism of Irish political life'.
"The fact that Donegal VEC is not affected by the decision is evidence of the fact that the cute hoor mentality is still alive and kicking.
"The fact Education Minister Mary Coughlan's constituency has not been touched is sending out the wrong message to the public.
"As far as I can see, not one bit of thought was put into the amalgamation plan. It's atrocious that staff of VECs around the country were not even consulted. But it all goes back to the fact this county has been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by cute hoor politics."
Claremorris Fine Gael Councillor Tom Connolly said the plan is outrageous and cannot be accepted.
"It's a political issue and there's no getting away from it. It's all down to what Mary Coughlan wants and what she does not want."
Councillor Austin Francis O'Malley said the Fine Gael party certainly wasn't going to throw in the towel in respect of the issue.