Wednesday, 16 March 2011 16:48
This newspaper got a bit of stick for highlighting the fact Fine Gael-led Mayo County Council agreed to call a special meeting on March 21 to ensure Deputy Michelle Mulherin's replacement on the authority has a vote in the forthcoming Senate elections.
No problem with taking the criticism, but the point needs to be made that it is very unusual for the council to convene special
meetings unless very important and emergency business needs to be addressed.
At a time when a strong case could be made for holding a special meeting to debate the serious problems being experienced by the retail sector throughout the county, there is something intrinsically wrong with bringing 31 councillors from all corners of Mayo to approve a co-option simply to give Fine Gael an extra vote in the Senate elections.
While many of them may not attend, it goes without saying Fine Gael will ensure a quorum is in attendance to help the party complete its business.
It begs the question why Fine Gael is so intent on securing the additional vote. One can only assume it relates to a member or members within the party's own ranks on the council seeking election to a wing of the Oireachtas that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is intent on abolishing by way of referendum.
If that's that case, then it raises further questions in regard to how political parties utilise the powers they have for their own gain rather than for the benefit of the communities they serve.
It is a serious matter and one that should be challenged at every opportunity. Such an approach by Fine Gael has already served to undermine the future of Mayo Vocational Education Committee and it would be a shame if the same thing was allowed to happen to Mayo County Council.
A further disappointing aspect of the council's decision to approve the March 21 meeting is the fact that Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin or the Independent members did not raise a single word of opposition, the implication being they would have done the exact same thing themselves if they were in Fine Gael's shoes.
One is not certain what senior councils thought of the charade and the assumption is they were not impressed.
But if Taoiseach Enda Kenny is serious about his intentions to clean up the image of politics, then he needs to start from the bottom up as much as from the top down.