Wicklow County Council AGM 2016 Transcript

Wicklow County Council AGM – 20 June 2016

CATHAOIRLEACH: okay. Members, good afternoon to you. I would just like to start off with, sympathies obviously, we had that dreadful murder of an MP in the British government, Jo Cox, so I will be opening up a book of con dole lens and I’d like you all to sign that but I don’t know if anybody else has any other sympathies but I think I would definitely like us all to stand for that please. Nobody else? No. Okay. We’ll stand. Okay, Councillor bee man.

Cllr BEHAN: This is a formal occasion today, I don’t want to delay the meeting, but I just think it’s you are jement we as a body express our opinion to the Government regarding to the ongoing situation about the waste and payment by weight which the government are currently dithering about at the moment. now we have a discussion on it I know last week so I don’t know want to have another big discussion. But I really do feel it’s incumbent on government at the very minimum to postpone the introduction of these charges at least for another year, but secondly, and very importantly, that people in this county who currently dispose of their waste by use of the bags which they purchase from the outlets, these are the people who actually recycle most, they produce the least amount of waste and they are people going ton to be seriously disadvantaged if bags are withdrawn from sale, I am proposing we feel the charges should be postponed and bags should continue to be available for customers throughout the country. Thank you.

CATHAOIRLEACH: okay, Councillor Snell?

Cllr SNELL: Thanks, Cathaoirleach, again, just in regard to today and the procedure, it’s a very historic day obviously the AGM every year is very important for the constituent of county Wicklow and public representatives but I think it would be remiss of me indeed every member in the chambers rather than looking forward just for a moment if we could look back over the last 12 months and in particular to the role you have played in regard to this chamber

CATHAOIRLEACH: I appreciate that, do you mind if we deal with Councillor would he Behan’s one first and we can move on to that section. So Councillor Behan, is that a proposal you have put to the floor?

Cllr BEHAN: &nbY. Is it seconded. I second it. And that agreed by everybody? Agreed. Okay. Agreed, great. Okay. So I think we’ll move on to the next section, I wouldn’t mind going through a few notes first if that’s okay and then I will certainly open the floor. J just before the votes of sympathy, could I propose a vote of sympathy to the Murphy family on the death of George Murphy, a well known member of Bray Emmets and lived in Bray until the new houses in said Monday ton road for a long number of years as well, you were obviously very quick there and I couldn’t get there in in regard to that. Okay.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. So members, just from my own pointed of view now, I’d like to thank you all for giving me the opportunity to be Cathaoirleach, which was abans leut honour, I have no idea where the year went, it’s the absolute fasters year of my life. but I’d also like to thank my own party for nominating me for the position and I’d like to thank each and every member and employee of the council for supporting me in that role throughout the year, which was fantastic and each of the direct tofertion, Michael Nicholson, Joe Lane, Tom Murphy, Sean quirk, Michael Geany and Des O’Brien and Lorraine Lynch who has obviously since moved on and obviously in particular I’d like to thank Brian who I worked extremely closely with who I think has to my mind more than proved himself to warrant being appointed as a full-time chief executive of Wicklow county council. and I’d certainly like to see that happening.
As Cathaoirleach in this rol e, you work very closely with Lorraine, so I’d also like to thank you for the support you have given me over the year. also to the chairs of theSPCs, and the municipal districts and I’d also like to express my thanks to the members of the corporate policy group an the protocol committee. And finally to my last Cathaoirleach, Councillor Pat Fitzgerald, for your support during the year, hopefully I didn’t burden you too much with too many things. I think it’s been a really interesting year. And I think together we have achieved a lot,

however when looking back at the year, the saddest event obviously was the loss of Councillor Pat Kavanagh, I think we were all very affected by her passing, particularly how fast and sudden it happened, we do miss her and we hope her family has come to terms with her passing even though I understand it’s extremely difficult to do but I think they can be proud of everything she achieved and of course we welcomed Pat’s Star, Mary, to the council and I think Pat herself would be very proud of Mary’s contributions to date.

we had a general election during the year and I think it was great to see that this body didn’t become very party political, which I think is always important but we focused on our job but two of ours member were elevated to deputy stawt tus, both at the time Councillor Pat Casey and Councillor John Brady, who were elected, and then obviously we had two new members join the council in Councillor gale Dunne and Councillor Michael O’Connor. We also had, I don’t know the first time on the council I remember for where somebody gave birth and that was Jennifer gave birth to queef have a and she brought queef have a in to our council meeting which I thought was grated and hopefully that didn’t damage the child too much.

in terms of so how we have been doing our business, I mean it’s always a challenge with 32 members to make sure you are giving every an opportunity to have toir voice but hopefully everybody has felt that they have had the opportunity to contribute. I think the council itself got has a lot better in terms of communication, that was one of the things we were always talking about the council does a lot of good stuff but a lot of case was slow to get its message across to let the people &nb know the good we do and working with Tony O’Brien, we have had worked hard through press releases and radio and the media across the country to get the positive message about what we do and obviously we have upped the amount of county wise that’s gone out across the country just to explain what Wicklow county council does and what we have achieved over the each quarter.

also Brian and myself have been out on the streets as such in Arklow and Wicklow and Blessington and just going around the different retailers and going in and asking them how business is, because I think it’s really important that we are not hiding away in Wicklow county council but we are actually getting out and willing to, you know, go firsthand to the people who need our help, need our support, and I think they came up with some really good ideas and it was great to get that &nb constant feedback from people who recognised we were doing a lot and things were improving slightly but there was still lots of things they wanted us to do and we also Councillor mit who are isn’t here but the text alert system was introduced this year too and I think that’s really important, that while the media is great, nothing beats nowadays people have their mobile phones, if something happens that we can actually communicate directly with people in the county. Special I haveically in their area to tell them exactly what’s going on and that system has worked very well and I’d n courage more people to actually sign up for that text system.

I think it came into its own around Christmas time when we had the bad weather and obviously with the floods that hit the county and every day we were listening for the weather forecast to know what was actually coming our way, but thankfully we were very lucky to have Michael an his team at the civil defence and Aidan an the cruise from the fire services who turned out to assist home owners who were badly affected. Obviously, I remember going into kill cool and just when you are walking through &nb somebody’s house that’s just been absolutely covered in water and just see how they feel, I mean it’s tough. But thankfully I think we equipped ourselves, acquitted ourselves very well and I know we also had the issue over the Murroch too and a lot of people working very hard to try and ensure that that’s protected from here on.

the biggest issue we faced as a council has been housing. And I know one of the first things we did was to go into the Department of the Environment and sit across the table from all of the department heads. And it was really great because for the first time, it was a case of trying to get a real conversation going about the different areas in the county that we had that we’d like to bring housing forward and they were sort of saying yes, to no, this and we were able to have a really good debate and out of that obviously getting the go ahead for two part 8s at Murphy’s land in Bray, which will see 42 units and brewery straight? Rathdrum with 20 units, it’s fantastic that the council is back to building houses, that’s what we need to do. there’s what, 3,800 people on the housing list, obviously that number is slightly skewed but the reality is we need to focus on what we can do and what we can do is actually get funds from the department and build houses ourselves and then work with prescribed bodies who we have also done in terms of two housing in new town with glen brook, with 32 units there and again

it’s only when you are actually talking to people who have just been given the keys of a house and to see the difference it makes and one woman there who I was speaking to who was homeless was on the streets of Dublin, and she had her two kids taken away from her and the fact that this house meant a new start, a new life, and her kids back, you can’t imagine what that feels like for anybody. so, thankfully we have been able to give quite a few people a fresh start and working with Simon, we have also been able to bring housing and acquire housing in Blessington and obviously the most recent thing of the housing in Greystones. and I know there’s a lot of other ones that Joe and his team have coming on-stream, I think we all got the emails about those and I think we have to double our efforts to make sure that we deliver those wherever possible. roads wise, obviously one of the first things the job we are doing is being at the opening of the Arklow Rathnew road improvement, I remember just being up where they cut the ribbon and getting the most almost shove from the minister of the government from Wexford, I just had bad timing, I really did, he will never do it to me again but anyway, I have gone turfed out of the photograph but that’s okay, because there was an election coming up.

Greystones marina is obviously something again that this council should be extremely proud of. It’s a fantastic development and obviously over the weekend, I think the sailing club there opened that you are own prim sis for the first time an the excitement that is around all of that is absolutely fantastic.

in Bray, we had the cycle lane on the sea front and we have also had theNTAin here at a meeting so I think it’s good that we start that communication with them because there’s too many things that they are involved in that are really important to this council not to be actually sitting down and talking to them directly. in terms of the environment section, the Dargle flood protection scheme is going to be completed in September, in terms of the work and the river and the like and I know there’s lots of other things to be doing around it which will probably take another six months to complete. But in terms of the amount of money, 49 million that’s been invested in that and the protection it gives to the people in that part of Bray is huge. And obviously then it was lovely to be able to sign the tender document, or the contract for the Bray board walk, that’s going to be part of that.
We also had the Arklow treatment, water treatment plant opening. The blue flag for the south beach in brit tasks and obviously we have now taken on Wicklow harbour, so and particularly that means an awful lot in terms of the maritime group an the economic think tank and a potential that we have in that whole area.

in the planning area, obviously we have had the development plan, go on draft and we have debated it here and it will conclude by the end of the year. And it’s just important I think it’s been great to see the amount of people who have engaged in the public consultation piece of that and I attend up in Enniskerry an the room was packed and people were really engaging with it, all too often, our public consultations are really in name only because you don’t get the engagement of the public but whatever way it was done this time, that engagement definitely came, so that was fantastic.

in the community section, obviously 1916, the commemoration, has been huge. The amount of events that have taken place across the county an the engagement I think from the people I know, I was chairing the committee because Christopher asked me to do that the year before just to prepare for it and I think it was one of our fears was exactly how that would all play out and would people, would the people of the county actually engage with it but there’s absolutely no doubt it was fantastic to see them come from &nb everywhere and even particularly to see the community come together in kill Macken ago and what they produced there and we should look at areas for civicism proasms around the area, that we have created is really special and my thanks to them.

obviously we have had new play grounds in new town and in Rathnew. And new library in Arklow, I never spent so much time in Arklow, do you know that, which was great, I loved it. And the new council offices there, naming them in honour of former Councillor Vincent Mc he will Ron. We had the community grants obviously, a lot of you were down in the Arklow bay, 570, 000 in community grants, it’s like over half a million euro, it’s a huge amount of money and a boost to these community groups, far and wide. It was just a dreadful night to have it on but anyway. One eye on the match and one eye on the awards but it was wonderful to actually see those people and what it means to them to actually get that.

also lucky enough to be part of the pride of place and when the judges were going around the county in terms of that, going up to places like tig Lynn and going to Wicklow, the whole way through the be well Bray, just all of the different groups that and car knew, all the groups that put themselves forward, you would be so proud of the people in those groups and what they are achieving. And particularly I was absolutely blown away with tig Lynn and in an area, you know, addiction an the like, where it seems pretty hopeless at times, they have absolutely managed to create a model that works and it’s just fantastic when you hear those people talk about their lives before and their lives now.

And I think it’s just wonderful. I obviously was given the honour of going to by myself to New York on St Patrick day and again, you know, it’s when you do meet up with people who have left this county, and they are there walking, it’s a small group, Wicklow has, I don’t know if that’s so much they weren’t too many people from Wicklow needed to go away but I know one thing they said to me they’d love to send a message out to the people of Wicklow to say if you tie in your holidays next year, you can March in the St Patrick day parade in New York behind the Wicklow banner and I think that’s something that I’d like people in Wicklow to do, it’s, you know, it’s not too far now to get across the ocean, to the United States, so I’m sure they’d absolutely love that support.
we also had the Canadian ambassador, before he came in here had sprung to fame for sorting out for some people who might be a problem and afterwards he did it again, so I’m glad we didn’t give him too much trouble down here. But that was good to have him there.

under economic development, obviously huge amount of work went in to the LECP, both obviously from the community section and from the economic section. It’s a big plan in place. The economic think tank obviously has done a huge amount of work and obviously you know, we see the brand new logo for county Wicklow, we were all part of the co-creation piece an the discussion bs what it would be and I think it looks fantastic and we had a couple of bags with it on it and it looks great just to be able to walk around with that logo and endless opportunities is what it is about and I think everybody has kind of bought into that concept, that’s what Wicklow is and it’s up to us to realise the potential this have &nb county.

also we made a big decision in lard to the film industry, we saw the film industry as being really important for this county an it’s under threat and still under threat from others who would like to claim to own that as a county but we still do own it as a county, we are the centre of the film industry in Ireland and there are a lot of exsiting things, some that didn’t quite happen in this last year, but really hopeful that things will happen in the next couple of months with regard to that and please God fingers crossed it would be fantastic but obviously with Ashford putting in their planning application, Ashford student yoas, helped by our brave decision to 0 rate the capital infrastructure for film, I think that’s really a case of the council listening to what’s needed in the market place, responding and then &nb seeing now the planning application coming in, we still have a way to go obviously with our development plan and to try and convince the minister and others that the application is and the zoning is right for that area but I think that’s our job to do that. obviously the website has been redevelop and I think that’s going to be a huge portal and it is the future of how people will communicate that we have a portal which will bring them everywhere, looking forward to that,

from a Bray perspective obviously the florn teen centre, to be able to bring that to near planning permission is fantastic anl the work that Des and his department did in terms of making that happen, when you think of it, that it cost about 20 million to put the site together and Wicklow manageed to secure it for two and it’s exciting because the town of Bray absolutely needs that development and will have it.

there’s other obviously the under tourism, we have done a lot of work, we had a lot of conversation and we have actually signed a memorandum of understanding with Coillte to develop a fantastic, what would you call it, tourism destination in avondale and just what that can become, it will be, if it all plays out the way we believe it will play out, it will be something that we’ll be so proud of and it will, I’d say, be on par with Glendalough in terms of the visit tor numbers that it will attract to county Wicklow, that so’s absolutely huge.

we also had a meeting with the business leaders. This is something that I hope will be continued every half year. Where we presented to them what’s going on and what the council are doing and we gave them a chance to talk back and I can that’s really the order of the day that we meet directly and talk directly and we get very close and try and drive the economic development of the county and drive job creation in this county because from job creation obviously comes hopefully better lives for everybody.

it was good to have the IDA here, obviously they haven’t been here for a long number of years, and I think they liked the interaction with the council and I think that’s really important. The rates incentives scheme launched the 20 percent reduction in development levies,

we also had the Chinese delegation to came in and we signed the intent to have a partnership and obviously taking up that opportunity to go to comien in a and see if that’s to the high in an prove since if that’s the right thing to do and that’s what we are going to be doing. and then finally, with regard to the finance, the decision that the council took to not reduce the property tax and to use the funds from that for homelessness, to save persons grants, economic development, libraries, play grounds, community grants and community plans and initiatives, I think all of those things were really, really important that this council decided to actually do that and invest the money, I think we have to work hard to show people exactly where that money went and the outputs of that and I think that’s something that we are going to have to work hard as a council to do. from my own point of view, we launched the process to try and make Wicklow county council a better place to work. And we have, we are doing the assessment process at the moment and I think that’s something that’s really important because I know it would be inconsistent for me to be sitting here if I didn’t believe that the body corporate wasn’t a great place to work and I certainly hope that it gets a better place to work because there are fantastic people doing fantastic work in this organisation and I think we need to highlight that on a constant basis and all of that feeds into the performance of the organisation.

a couple of things we didn’t get to. I believe we need a meeting as a council, where we just go away and talk about the vision of what we want to achieve over the next three years so we can be very focused, it tends to be issues that arise whereas I think we need to be a little more planned how we do that and the other thing was the monthly meeting reports that are produced, I know from my point of view, they absolutely didn’t land, they didn’t really help me to get my head around how we are doing as a council, so I think we need to probably at the same time and if Pat agrees or whoever agrees … to actually really try and actually clarify what are the met tricks that are important to us in terms of this council. and what are the things we should be looking at constantly to see whether or not we are actually delivering on those. so, I think if we can do that, it will be a good job of work for us moving forward. But just in total, I think we have got an awful lot achieved in that year and I think we have worked together well so my absolutely thanks and gratitude to each and every one of of the members of this council for giving me the opportunity again to take on this responsibility and good luck whoever takes on the role going forward. Councillor Snell.

Cllr SNELL: Thanks, Cathaoirleach. Yeah, as I was saying there earlier, in regards to the important of today and the AGM and while it is historic occasion, not to take from the fact that you know, it’s not the most important meeting of the year. I believe it’s just a start, a lot of people will criticise the process and the voting pact but the fact is it’s part and parcel of politics and I believe that rather than focusing on the negative, we must look at the pos tiffs and that’s why I wanted to speak, if I could, in regards to your term over the last 12 months. And I believe that it could have been a very difficult year taking into account that we had a general election, we had the three cooptions in regard of the chambers, there was that I suppose we could have went through a period of where we were unstable but in fairness to you, I think you are understanding, certainly your fairness, your leadership and more so your inclusiveness, with every member, because the one thing that everybody must understand is that while it will take political parties and independents to put someone in the chair, when they are in the chair, that they, that that person and my experience anyway over the last, this is my eighth year in the chambers would be that each and every person that’s been in that chair has been very, very fair and I think you epit miezed that in the last 12 months, Cathaoirleach. In regards to your long service of Wicklow county council and Bray town coil has stead you in good stead

I suppose in regards to standing in front of the electorate and constituent on many, many occasions, but what really stood out for me was this year more than any you brought a vibrant attitude in regards to the public relations to Wicklow county council. You hit on it yourself there in regards to it. There’s lots of good work that’s been done here. And unfortunately, it’s not always publicised and there is certain aspects of society that like to focus in on the negatives. And I think as 32 members, we were doing a disservice to the local authority and to the staff over a few years in regards to not geting that good image out there and your focus on that I think has changed that and I hope and I wish that that continues and I have no doubt that it will. in regards to the smooth running of the council, again it could have been a very difficult term, we were only getting used to going from 24 councillors to 32.

I think protocol did help in regard to the reducing speaking time. And people probably over repeating themselves. I do look forward to working with you on the corporate policy committee and I hope that procedure will continue for the next 12 months. And in regards to your following in the footsteps of Councillor Fox and Councillor Casey before him in regards to I think the ship has been stead deed in regard to this chambers, I think the real work of any public representative, if we were to be judged on what we do in these chambers, none of us would probably be worthy of sitting here, the real work is done on the day-to-day basis, what we do outside of this chamber and in our interaction with staff and with our constituent and ibility that you certainly led the way in that regard. I know that you had, you were hands on in the day-to-day running of the local authority, not interfering but offering your services to assist and certainly in the housingSPC was very much appreciated I’d like to congratulate you on the year that you had and I look forward to working with the incoming Cathaoirleach. Thank you.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you very much. Councillor Fox.

Cllr FOX: Thank you, chairman. First of all, can I acknowledge Senator Denis O’Donovan and I see Senator Gerry hor kin has popped in as well, I know Denis has been, and Mark it is there as well, hi Mark. And Senator Mark deally, I know Denis has been Rel vaitd to position of Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and &nb congratulate him and Mark and Gerry as well on their elevation to the Oireachtas.

just in relation I think you have summed up the year very well in your synopsis. I like to concur with Councillor Snell’s comments in relation to you. That you have been a very inclusive and very fair chairperson. I think John has summed it up very well. Obviously the position presents a lot of challenges that sometimes come out of nowhere and you dealt with all those challenges very, very well. you definitely brought a freshness to the whole area of public relations and communication which was refreshing.

I know it was a great honour for yourself, an the whole family, and you have done the position, you have done the position a very proud and I just like to congratulate you on your year and say well done.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thanks. Councillor Shay Cullen.

Cllr Shay CULLEN: yes, chairman, thank you, I too would like to pay tribute to your year’s work, there’s no doubt that this council worked well under your leadership. The word fair has been used by both speakers already and I would like to concur with that, I think everybody here in this chamber had, you know, a fair amount of time and you were, you know, you were lean yenlt with everybody, with their views, which was important. your work through the economic think tank was massive. And your enthusiasm was obvious to everybody in this chaism better of how important you felt your county was to promote through your PR and you know, that’s important, you believe in what you were doing and you certainly done a super job on that so I won’t keep you any longer, I just want to say congratulations on your year’s work and well done for everything you have achieved.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. Councillor Lawless.

Cllr LAWLESS: , thank you, Cathaoirleach, I want to wish you well and thank you for your year’s work just kinds of listening to all that we have actually done here in Wicklow, it’s actually quite spectacular really an it’s great to see the positivings I know we have bumped along the way and we always will have bumps an neas that’s the nature of the game. On a personal level I have to say I think you were very good leadership, you were very fair. I know I approached you with various different things that we needed done and your door was owls open and I think that’s, you know, a sign of a very good Cathaoirleach and I’m hoping whoever takes your place is the same again. And I just want to wish you well, John, and I know we’ll be working anyway continually, and well done.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. Cheers. Sylvester Bourke.

Cllr BOURKE: Cathaoirleach, congratulations on your year, you have done an excellent job as our representative, at home and abroad, you have put your heart and soul in the job and in the fg group, we are proud of our achievement, I am reminded rt words Charles J Haughey used when he was handing over the rains of power, “to quote from Julius Caesar, I have done the state a service, and they know it, no more of that .”

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you, I think. Miriam Murphy.

Cllr MURPHY: Again, I’d like to concur with the other councillors. I suppose someone had said about the 28 councillors, so I’m one of the extra ones that was here and I was lucky enough to have Chris Fox the first year and you the second year and I have to say as both chairs, especially, it’s difficult coming in to the chamber, into the big bad Wolff forest and it is nice to be able to ring a chairman without any intimidation and feel that you are listened to and I think as a new Councillor, that’s very, very essential. also it is great to welcome the chairman to Arklow and even John Snell was delighted to come to Arklow last Monday night, he is still not over the shock of it but he will get over it but also I think you have brought positivity which I think we all need as public reps, as Councillor Lawless said, there is bumps and negativity, sometimes we are not the reason for the negtivity but as councillors sitting here, we are blamed but I think as going down the line, I think that will be improved and also to see the chairman and the CEO walking the streets, I think that is the first major step of a great networking. But I would ask that maybe the result of that be a step back to the local councillors here that maybe we could step up on that as well as local councillors. and also I think some of the project that is working at the top, we probably need to know as well. I didn’t know about the avondale, or whatever, so there’s a lot of things maybe in-house that doesn’t reach us until the last minute and we are asked about it and I think that’s another improvement that I think the next year that we need to improve on. But I would like to say you asked me to speak for 30 minutes on your behalf, I’m sorry but I can’t, I am too shy but I wish you well. Thank you very much!

CATHAOIRLEACH: thanks Councillor Vance?

Cllr VANCE: , thank you chairman, I am impressed with Councillor Bourke’s knowledge of Charles J Haughey. I think there’s probably a motion before fg to expel him for quoting that but chairman, as it was said many times, it’s a great honour for anyone to become chairman of their council, whether it’s county council, municipal authority or town council an it’s a great honour for the family as well although they have to suffer the fact that the particular person that’s nominated for that chair, they don’t see very much of for that year as well but I mean every Cathaoirleach of the council, male or female, they all have their own style and they all bring their own style to the chair and generally it’s fairly noticeable that over the years the different people an the different styles an the different thoughts and the different pressures that they are put under under and also what they feel are the necessary things that need to be done within their particular year as well.

And I think you recognise very early on that the image of the council wasn’t as it should be. And certainly the communication within the council and outside the council wasn’t as it should be as well so I think that you set out to improve that as well rather than going through what you went through yourself there, it has been a full year for the council. it has been a very, very busy year as you are well aware, as well, and you have done a great job in making yourself available and improving the image throughout the county. And certainly from that point of view, I think we are an awful lot better off now than we were when we started off as well. first of all, can I thank you on behalf of the ff group and also the fact that, appreciate the fact that Kelly is still with you an the kids are still there as well and they will probably be seeing more you now now, that’s maybe good or bad. They have to get used to seeing you around the place a little bit better but they also play a huge part in this as well, it’s impossible for anybody to take the chair of a local authority organisation without the support of their family. And I think we should also recognise the fact that the part that they play as well. Thank you, chairman.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thanks. Pat. Councillor O’Brien.

Cllr O’BRIEN: (Speaks Irish) yourself, Mr John Ryan, have produced probably the best plan I have seen when I was is thing down at a meu sis pal district in Bray trying to sort out the traffic problems, the kind of plan I like is a two page document and that’s whie like, you have five problemses that took a sentence and five solutions that took a sentence, may you keep that attitude and bring it with you wherever you go and I have to say good day to you. (Speaks Irish)

CATHAOIRLEACH: Councillor Walsh?

Cllr WALSH: I think in your extensive address, you really um &nb rise the huge scale of work and responsibility sees yait with the role of Cathaoirleach and from listening to you there, it’s been eeventful year for you and for this council, I’d like to congratulate ow n the open transparent and evenhanded approach you took to proceedings here in this chamber, stiements in trying circumstances but I think you followed on from your predecessor, Councillor Fox, in the way you approached things and I think you brought your vast &nb experience froot private sector tow your role here as Cathaoirleach and I congratulate you, thank you.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. Councillor Thornhill.

Cllr THORNHILL: (Speaks Irish) before I go ahead I’d like to welcome the Sen tors here today, mat daily, Gerry Horkin and my fellow west Cork man, Denis O’Donovan and I would like to congratulate Denis O’Donovan, he is now going to be Cathaoirleach of Seanad Eireann. But … (Speaks Irish) so for the future, I would love to hear your views and I am delighted and I wish you, yourself and your family, the best in the future. (Speaks Irish) but I mean and I know like with the coming Chinese trip and whichever coming forward, you know like that we’ll be looking forward to the future and improving our Irish culture. (Speaks Irish)

CATHAOIRLEACH: OK. Thank you to both yourself and Councillor O’Brien for because during the 1916, I have atrocious Irish unfortunately and they helped me in terms of preparing for the few words that I had to say so thank you very much to both of you for that. Councillor O’Connor.

Cllr O’CONNOR: , thanks Cathaoirleach, I just want to say thanks very much for making me feel so welcome in the chamber since my cooption, it’s very appreciated.

Cllr WINTERS: thanks Cathaoirleach, I suppose it’s all been said, I want to say congratulations on a great year’s work, I think you have been a very fair chairman and have given a lot of time and thought and have left a body of work that people can build on and I think that has to be appreciated and acknowledged by people and best of luck in whatever you find time to do now that you are council duties will be somewhat lessened. Thanks.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. The CEO.

CEO: thank you, Cathaoirleach, it’s always hard to get a word in edgeways, he did keep the, your shoulder to the wheel. On behalf of myself and on behalf of the staff of the council I wish to join with the members of Wicklow County Council acknowledging John’s successful year as Cathaoirleach, I think it is important that as members, we reflect on what we do and it’s like anything, when a job is well done, it’s nice to reflect on a job that’s well done and to the incoming Cathaoirleach, it sets a very high standard which having worked with Councillor Fox as Cathaoirleach, I have no doubt that that standard will be maintained.

I believe as Cathaoirleach, your energy and drive and ambition for the council reflects well on the high level goals that we both set out to achieve. I think you set out an ambitious plan this time last year, and as you have outlined to the members earlier, we have certainly come a long way and present that had and as you would say yourself, it’s for the good of the people, it’s for the good of the council and how it operates is how you looked upon your teen euro as Cathaoirleach and I want to thank you personally for your assistance in developing my role at this particular time. Thank you very much.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you very much, thank you members okay it’s time to move on to the election of Cathaoirleach so can I take nominations please. Councillor Tommy Annesley.

Cllr ANNESLEY: First of all Cathaoirleach, I’d like to thank you for getting the, for 12 months you are calling me ainsly, it’s actually Annesley but thank you very much. You did make a very good stab at it and just Cathaoirleach, well done on your imreer, so jesting aside, I’d like to nominate one of the most hard working men in the chamber, excuse that sexist phrase Councillor Murphy, one of the hardest working councillors in the chamber, this man got elected to Arklow council in 1999 and elected to Wicklow County Council in 2009, he has been on the council ever since. I don’t know how his wife, his family puts up with him, they actually, his daughter had a grandchild in Canada and he wouldn’t go, he want miss this meeting today and that shows you his dedication, that Councillor is Councillor Pat Fitzgerald, extremely hard working man, he can go nowhere with him an he is always on the phone so Veronica, I don’t know how you put up with him, fair play to you. So I would just like to nominate Councillor Pat pits Gerald, please.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you and my apologies for getting that wrong all year. 50/50 chance, I always get it wrong. Councillor Vance?

Cllr VANCE: Chairman, I’d like to formally second that proposal by Councillor Annesley, I think Veronica puts up with him because he is never as home, there’s never any rows in the family, the lad is never at home, I think it’s fair to say most people throughout all political spectrum recognise this is a man that does a tremendous amount of work for everybody of all political parties, within the area and he is very cooperative with all the members the as well. I think if selected, that he will make a great exphairm tor this council because he is hands on and he will make himself available to all sections of the council here and I think if you are talking about hard work, this is the man that will put in the hard work and when we are back here next year, please God, that we’ll be saying that it was a good year and it was a hard working year and the chairman put in his efort d as well in regard to that. So I want to formally second Councillor Pat nits Gerald, thank you.

CATHAOIRLEACH: Thank you, any other nominations Councillor Lawless?

Cllr LAWLESS: Yes, we are of course going to nominate someone for Cathaoirleach, I’d like to nominate Councillor Michael O’Connor, I know he is only very new to the council but he has very good experience in his work that he does and I think would he make an excellent chair, thank you. Cathaoirleach.

CATHAOIRLEACH: Do you have a seconder for that? Cllr McDONALD: Yes.

CATHAOIRLEACH: any other nominations for Cathaoirleach? No, we’ll we’ll proceed to a vote.

Ms. GALLAGHER okay, Cathaoirleach, I will call out the elected member’s name and perhaps you would indicate which candidate you are voting for.

(A vote was taken)

that’s 20 votes for Councillor Fitzgerald. Three for Councillor O’Connor. Five abstaining. And three not present.

CATHAOIRLEACH: okay. Congratulations to the new Cathaoirleach. (Applause) okay, members if could could just take a two minute break while we take a photograph and hand over.


Hello. We just want to say ahead there, please. I think Lorraine you wanted to clarify something? FN. ::

Ms. GALLAGHER yes, Cathaoirleach, I called out three not present and it should have been four not present, 24 for, three against, five abstentions and four not present.


CATHAOIRLEACH: yes, just if you bear with me for a few minutes and it will a few minutes, o I don’t tend to speak for too long, action is better than words. But look it, it’s a proud day for me to be chairman of Wicklow County Council. Since I set out in 1994 on the election trail, I never aspired to be the chairman of anything but I was lucky enough to be chairman of Arklow town council in 2002 and the Arklow municipal district in 2014, into 2015 and during that time, politics has been good to me and I hope I have been good to the people who supported me. I’m actually obviously a Wicklow man and proud of that county. And over the last few years, it has grieved me a lot to see so many people suffering particularly in the area of housing and I want to thank particularly in the last few years there the former director, Michael Nicholson an the present director, Joe Lane, for all their work over the last few years because we received a plan last week of what’s planned into the future and it is certainly, there are, there seems to be a lot of plans ahead for housing and I attended anSPC meeting last week and I particularly know that the SPC on housing all the SPC one is the one I was talking about, I was there under the chairmanship of John Snell are doing tremendous work and I believe into the future the situation for people who are in need of housing will improve, but they need money to build houses so effectively, we were depending on your Dáil deputies, one of them is here today, Pat Casey, he is there, yeah.

And I believe that into the future, we will get sufficient funding to support people and I am not going to speak for long but as I say, it’s certainly a proud day for me and my family. I just became A grandfather last week in Canada of a little boy called Noah, I nearly forgot his name already after ten days, I have so so many grandchildren but that’s it, Noah with a and I didn’t know what way things were panning out, I wasn’t in a position so my wife Veronica and my son, Paul, went instead.

Look it, we have challenges ahead of us. As was said previously, I think by one Councillor, when you become chairman, you are independent and that’s the way I will tend to be, we might have disagreements but I will respect everyone’s opinion and that’s the way I am. We have the County Development Plan ahead. We have the local economic and community plan which will can the vision for the future and we certainly, we have been in the area of jobs, we certainly have taken a hit but I know there’s a lot of work going on here in Wicklow County Council on and others and on Friday, myself and the municipal district councillors will be going to a company that has set newspaper Arklow which surprise surprise has come from Wexford into Wicklow, which is the other way around, arc add hee sifs and I think you are coming yourself, I see the chief executive and look forward to going out there.

But as I see it, because Councillor Ryan stole some of my thunder with his speech but look we have had a huge employment or unemployment problem in the county and I do believe things are start to go improve. But I need to improve a lot more before you can say that we are out of the woods but I want to say that I will give a full-time commit mentd to the position of chairman. I think I have a record, I never — I always return calls, I take calls when I can. My wife even says to me when I’m asleep at night you are taking calls but that’s the way it is. I have fully committed for this county and into the future, I give my full commitment to work with the other 31 councillors because it’s all about us all working together, it’s not about the chairman, it’s not about political parties, 32 councillors here elected to work for the people of this county and that’s what I will continue to do. I’m sorry, Councillor Thornhill wanted me to speak in Irish, he mentioned there, I am like Councillor Ryan, I have a bit more Irish than Councillor Ryan but I am not strong enough but I will for the next meeting I promise you address the meeting in Irish so thanks very much. (Applause). Councillor Ruttle there.

Cllr RUTTLE: On behalf of your group I want to congratulate on your election, I know for many years, I know you as a strong poll tish and very reliable and absolutely no waffler, I know you have a good year ahead and from our point of view, we are here to support you and cooperate with you any way possible and I know you for a long time, I know your abilities and wish you and Veronica your family as well in the year ahead, it’s obviously a great honour for your family as well. Thank you.

CATHAOIRLEACH: Councillor Murphy.

Cllr MURPHY: I would say it’s a very proud movement to have the members of Arklow municipal to have chairman of Wicklow County Council an Arklow man and a true Arklow man, I know you give 110% in your job for many years and I know your family does as well, they sacrifice a lot. And I know we have another good chairman elected last week from Rathdrum, we all have our problems but he will be a good chairman as well. I know but sure he knows it. But also I know that you are always fighting and lobbying for Arklow in every way.

Employment wise, housing wise especially. And you give a full commitment to a lot of the sporting clubs in Arklow and I look forward to working with you as well and I suppose you taught me a lot in many yearsing swl buts a proud day for Arklow. Thank you.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. Wipt wipt thanks,

Cathaoirleach, just to wish you well for the year, I hear Councillor Murphy and talking about your commitment to Arklow, I realise as Cathaoirleach, your commitment will be to the entire county, I was delighted to vote for you, I know you are going to do a great job and I am looking forward to working with you.


Cllr BLAKE: I want to thank John Ryan for his contribution last year an the wonderful work he has done and yourself, Pat, we have known each other long before we ever become involved in politics in Wicklow County Council, we worked together for quite a number of years in Arklow and I know it’s a proud day for your family and for yourself as well to become the first the first citizen of county Wicklow, well done and we deserved, your phone is always live and available to take calls, that’s very, very true. And congratulations again and the best of luck to you for the coming year.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. Councillor McDonald.

Cllr McDONALD: On behalf of the Sinn Fein group, just congratulations on your achievement today, I would echo what Councillor Murphy said, under the first year in the municipal district, we had Councillor Bourke last year and Councillor Kennedy is under the microscope at the moment but I’m sure if you take what we do in Arklow and we all work well together and bring it to the 32 councillors here for the county that that it will be another successful year, well done.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you very much. Councillor Fortune?

Cllr FORTUNE: Congratulations on your appointment and I wish you the very best for the year, as great honour for yourself and your family and I have no doubt that you will work very hard at it and also I would like to say well done to the out going chair, Councillor Ryan.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you. Councillor Snell?

Cllr SNELL: Thanks, Cathaoirleach, and like other members I just want to congratulate you and your family and like previous speakers, I knew you as did an awful lot of people throughout county Wicklow before you ever got into politics, your work on the ground in regards to sporting groups and community groups precedes you in regards to you are highly well known, your phone just doesn’t risk from south Wicklow, I know that for a fact, that’s a true sign, you are a proud county Wicklow man, I know your phone rings from all the over the counties because people hold you in the highest respect as do I so I look forward to working with you for the coming years and promise you my 100% attention and support as I know you will reciprocate that in regard to the housingSPkrvmentd. Thank you. I’d like to congratulate ow on election, it’s a great honour for you and your family, it’s an important and challenging year ahead for this council and I have no doubt our longs years of experience as Councillor will bear you good fruit in the role so congratulations again.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thank you very much.

>> congratulations Cathaoirleach and Veronica an the family, I worked with you for many years in IFI I he not know the commitment you give in every role, I know you will give 110% an the support you gave to myself and the other councillors when you were chair of the Arklow municipal district, you reached out to every one of us and because us all in and we were all the includeed in every conversation and you made sure we were fully believed and congratulate you and ver con a an the family and you have my full support going forward for the rest of the year.

Dunne thank you children, I’d like to wish you the very best for the year and wish Veronica all the best and I know she’ll be behind you 100% and everybody realise the hard work you have done over a long number of years and on a personal note, I just like to thank you for the time an the effort that you put in for me when I came into this chamber a few months ago and all your advice that you gave me is very much appreciated and we wish you the very best of luck.

Cllr BEHAN: First of all if I could take the opportunity to congratulate Councillor Ryan on his excellent years as Cathaoirleach and congratulate you sincerely, we are kandz on the same ticket once upon a time and exerp ket tors in election after that and I have to say you are a man of dignity and a man of integrity and great ability and a man of huge principle of service to the people you represent in Arklow. But more widely to the people throughout the county. In the time that you have acted as Leas Cathaoirleach and you have had that opportunity on a couple of occasions, I have been very struck by exactly what you said yourself, your dins of mind, your willingness to listen to arguments no matter what makes them, list tone points that are valid and then give people an opportunity to speak and I have no doubt you will do that throughout the year and I wish you every success and your wife and family as well.

Councillor — I’d like to join with the other members in con great grat lating own successful election today and I wish you every success, you are a straight talking practical man and that’s a welcome quality in the chair, lied like to congratulate John Ryan on the super job he did over the year and the really strong EU78 pretion he made, particularly the whole economic development area, I think he has lifted that area and made the consciousness of all of us much stronger in relation to that area and the staff and I know you bring your own practical can do qualities to the job and I wish you every success.


Cllr THORNHILL: (Speaks in Irish) it’s a great honour to be chairperson and I know that you are a person of great experience and I am delighted and I know that you will give the job a great go and I am also delighted that you will give the Irish language, you will give it a bit of a go … gale gale that you are learning the Irish … I will be only too delighted … (Speaks Irish).

CATHAOIRLEACH: that Chinese now or Irish? Councillor Annesley.

Cllr ANNESLEY: Cathaoirleach, congratulations, well done, I’m going to miss you down here more so than anyone else, if ever I had 40 winks during a long meeting you would always give me a nudge. I can’t believe how big you are because I have loads of room and … on a more serious note, my semp thee goes out out to the council owe fetions, you are a man like a dog with a bone, when you want something, you want solutions and that’s the way to describe you, you will get answers and get solutions, keep up the good work and I look forward to working with you, Cathaoirleach, thanks very much.

CATHAOIRLEACH: thanks, good to see you back to full health as well.

Bourke Bourke (Speaks Irish).

CATHAOIRLEACH: just as well you told me what you were going to say, I understand it. He had that out for me on Saturday. We have another, thanks very much for the contributory beuts, I erred not to pay tribute to Councillor Ryan, Councillor Ryan had had a great year, he was here there and everywhere within the county and certainly is a dynamic perch. I wouldn’t, while I have been on the council I wouldn’t have known a lot about your abilities but I mean you certainly put in, I am going to put one little set back, at the community awards in Arklow last week, he said come out here to the corridor I want to have a chat with you, you might remember that and he wanted to watch the second half of the match! I am only joking, he didn’t go out. Anyway, we have another item on the agenda which is the election of Leas Cathaoirleach and I want to call nominations for the position of Leas Cathaoirleach. Michael O’Connor?

Cllr O’CONNOR: Thanks Cathaoirleach, I’d like to propose Councillor Lawless, I think the year just gone was … Fine Gael before that, before that it was independent and this year we have Fine Fail, I think it’s high time there was a Sinn Fein representative in the chair possibly the year after. I think it’s also very important that the position of Cathaoirleach or the position of Leas Cathaoirleach before that go to a woman, I think it’s been quite sometime before a woman had that so I propose Councillor Lawless, I think she’s be an excellent kand for the job.

CATHAOIRLEACH: do we have a seconder for that. Councillor Winters?

Cllr WINTERS: thanks, Cathaoirleach, would I like to propose Councillor Edward Timmins for the position of Leas Cathaoirleach, I think Councillor Timmins I believe for the last 12 years at this stage has put in excellent work and will make an excellent Leas Cathaoirleach and I would ask for all of the members support. Thank you.

CATHAOIRLEACH: anybody else, Councillor Blake, it?

Cllr BLAKE: I formally second Councillor Timmins rn the Timmins name has been synonymous with politics in Wicklow for a number of years with his brother Billy an his father, Godfrey in years gone by, I think he would make a good deputy … so I would formally second Edward Tim inst.

CATHAOIRLEACH: okay. No more nominations, will we go ahead with the election then.

Ms. GALLAGHER okay, again Cathaoirleach, I will call out the member’s name and maybe you would indicate your preference.

(A vote was taken).

That’s four for Councillor Lawless and 19 for Councillor Timmins and five not present and four abstentions. Councillor Timmins elected. (Applause).
CATHAOIRLEACH: do you want to say something, Councillor Timmins?

Cllr TIMMINS: Can I just brief, I won’t say much just to thank my nominator and seconder, it’s a truly great honour to be nominated for such a prestigious position, I am very pleased about it and chairman I look forward to working with you during the year and I will be of any assistance I can over the year, you have already given me a couple of jobs before you got into the seat so I look forward to helping you anyway I can.

CATHAOIRLEACH: a few double bookings.

Cllr TIMMINS: I know that, yeah. Thanks etch.

CATHAOIRLEACH: just our meeting is on the 4th July, is it? Oh sorry we have got to agree the schedule of meetings. It could change as well. Depending on. John Ryan proposed. Councillor, you seconded it John, yes. Our our next meeting. FN. ::

Ms. GALLAGHER the 4th July, we are kicking off early at 10 o’clock and we are not sitting beyond six.

Cllr BEHAN: Can I just, on the last occasion we discuss that had meeting which is going to be about the development plan I take it, Mr O’Brien indicated, is it going to be about the development plan?

CATHAOIRLEACH: yes, it would be ordinary business on the agenda as well.

Cllr BEHAN: It was indicated by Mr O’Brien if councillors wanted to submit amendments to the development plan after that meeting, there would still be an opportunity to do that so is that still the case? In other words that that if we don’t get the business done on the first day. That we will have an opportunity to submit amendments after that meeting. Mr O’Brien said we could but I want to make sure we are all clear on that.

CATHAOIRLEACH: sorry Christopher, just one second. Yeah, go ahead.

My understanding was amendments were to be submitted on the Wednesday before the meeting, I would like clarity on that. My impression leaving the meeting that was new amendments were to be smid to the forward planning section on the Wednesday before the July meeting.

Cllr BEHAN: Through the chair. That’s why, that was agreed but it was also said in the event we don’t get the full plan decided on the Monday, on the 4th. That if councillors had other amendments they wanted to put forward maybe based on the discussion that happens on the 4th, that they could still do that. Otherwise, the point I was making on the last occasion, everything has to be kind of put in by the Wednesday before the next meet and then we don’t have any more opportunities to propose amendments in and it was that that context Mr O’Brien said it would still be open to submit further amendments if the final plan was not adopted on Monday the 4th. I just want clarification that is still the case.

Ms. GALLAGHER my recollection was if we required another meeting between this and the end of August, that that could happen. That would happen. Because we are not sitting. I couldn’t clarify that.

CATHAOIRLEACH: sorry, Councillor Vance.

Cllr VANCE: Chairman I must say I didn’t have that understanding. The understanding I had is that to give the officials time to have a look and make recommendations on the development plan, that everything had to be in before the Wednesday, Wednesday evening and then they would work over time to make sure we had all those, all the different recommendations before the meeting on Monday. Now, I must say unless I missed it, I don’t believe that, I don’t remember hearing that if the feet meeting was going on for a further week, no more amendments was going to be taken in, I would imagine when the meeting starts, the meet something then adjourned and it’s the same meeting so effectively it’s not a separate meeting, it’s an adjourned meeting until the following week and I would be very touchy about more amendments coming in as the meeting goes on. I mean it can happen but it doesn’t give anyone an opportunity and I have seen this happening before and I didn’t like what I seen. I am not saying Councillor Behan is going to be involved in anything like that but I’m just saying my experience ever it before was something like that it wasn’t acceptable, it’s much better to have any amendments in before so we can have the full-time to have a discussion on them and to see what way we are going on them and certainly I don’t think I am in favour of more amendments comeing in in case the meet something not finished that particular day. But that was my understanding of it, I might get it wrong now.

CATHAOIRLEACH: Councillor Bourke?

Cllr BOURKE: It was my understanding if items hadn’t been dealt with that further amendments could be sent in before the subsequent meeting provided they were sent in in time again for the subsequent meeting within three or four days before the meeting would tack place, that was my understanding.

CEO: thanks Cathaoirleach, my understanding was that it was really a protocol between you the member that in reeption of an important development plan meeting like that scheduled for the 4th July that any amendments that were to be proposed would be submitted by the Wednesday beforehand so that we would have the chance to circulate all of the proposed amendments to all the members so that you would have a sort of booklet in front of you hopefully before the weekend that you could consider all the amendments that any of our other colleagues were proposing and you would be prepared for the Monday morning. I suppose if it goes on to a second meeting, it’s really up to you the members whether you want to have a second round of being able to put another set of amendments in but again the idea is that they would be in in a timely manner, again the Wednesday beforehand so that we could circulate them. Getting them in early is so you can get a chance to see in what your fellow members are prop eazing I understood the idea behind starting on the 4th July was to get started and see how we got on and if all matters were dealt with on the 4th July, that would be the end it have and there would be no further aamendments, the amendments would be complete so it’s really up to the members how quickly I suppose they want to make shire way through the amendments, if we start at the beginning, we have been in this situation before, we have got through as many amendments as this os a full day when we started at 10am, a number of us would be quite hopeful we could get all the of the amendments dealt with than on that day the 4th July and there would be node into to come back another daip and they could be put on public display.

You do get a chance however in September October after we have put the amendments on display to discuss the amendments further and decide whether you want to go with them or modify them or not go with them, the decisions you make on the 4th July aren’t set in stone, the only thing set in stone is those items you don’t amend, they are effectively decided. I suppose it’s really a protocol for the members, it’s your protocol, how you want to handle the adoption or amendment of the development plan. Chair could I suggest we make that decision on the day like I suggested last week, let’s see how it goes that particular day and then if necessary, we are going to have another meetingnd decide if more amendments would be taken between that an the meeting the following week, I think it would be better to decide it on the day, we don’t know the outcome of that meeting on the 4th July, I think that’s a reasonable suggestion.

CATHAOIRLEACH: Councillor Timmins?

Cllr TIMMINS: Certain leap the amendments you made to the development plan an the management minutes, the way you have added in and the — do we have to make, if we disagree with them, do we need to make submissions by Wednesday before the meeting or can we do it on the day?

>> if you disagree within amendment the chief executive has recommended, there’s no need for you to come in the week before because you are not coming in with something new. What will happen is when we reach that amendment, say it’s amendment number 38 and we reach it at 12.30 on the day, if the members don’t agree with that amendment and don’t vote it through, it’s not an amendment, it’s gone, it’s finished. If you have an all the tern tich, partly you partly agree with the managers or chief executive recommendation and you want to propose a tweaking of it or a slight all tern I have this would be that needs to be in the Wednesday beforehand so your fellow members can see it. If there’s nobody propose Aling alternatives to the amendments we have all represented and no further amendments, we’ll run through the chief executive’s recommendation and say yea or nay to each one as they arrive.

CATHAOIRLEACH: are you happy with that, Councillor Behan?

Cllr BEHAN: Yes.

CATHAOIRLEACH: any other questions? All right. I think — just there are some refreshments up in the canteen if someone would like to go up there, I am told. All right.

(Meeting concluded)

Last updated: 6/20/2016 3:38:21pm