Life in slow motion as protesters run afoul of Standing Orders

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Protesters opposed to the Central Access Scheme entered the council chamber in County Hall on Monday afternoon, prompting a temporary adjournment of the council’s monthly meeting.

Protesters opposed to the Central Access Scheme entered the council chamber in County Hall on Monday afternoon, prompting a temporary adjournment of the council’s monthly meeting.

Cathaoirleach Pat Millea (Fianna Fail) suspended proceedings for a full half hour, on the basis that the group had breached Standing Orders.

A Notice of Motion on the agenda, calling for a special briefing meeting to review the Central Access Scheme, was not heard that afternoon as there was not time. The meeting adjourned at the early hour of 5pm for a presentation to retiring chief executive Joe Crockett.

Over 70 people had gathered outside outside County Hall by 2.30pm. Around 50 of them then made their way into the council chamber as the meeting began at 3pm.

The council’s Standing Orders dictate that there should be no more than 20 members of the public present at a time, and that they may not address or disrupt the meeting. Banners or other items of protest are also not allowed in the chamber, and several protesters had brought theirs in.

Cllr Millea asked the group to confine their numbers to 20. One of the protesters observed that there had been more than 20 present at the council’s inaugural meeting, and there were a number of other interjections from the protesters. Cllr Millea then said he was adjourning the meeting for half an hour and left his seat.

At 5pm, as the meeting was adjourned until next month, Labour councillor Maurice Shortall asked that the relevant Notice of Motion be taken then and there as a courtesy to the group who attended the meeting, but this request was not facilitated.

The group is concerned that the council will not hold a review of the planned CAS project, despite 12 new councillors being elected in May. However, already at least one of those new members has indicated he will support a review. Speaking to the Kilkenny People yesterday, newly-elected leas cathaoirleach Paddy McKee (Fianna Fail) said that it seemed like the best option at the present time.

“Having met with council officials and discussed the CAS in some detail, it would seem to me that there is quite a bit of confusion amongst the public as to what is in fact happening, and a review could go some way to address these issues,” he said.

Director of Services John Mulholland, who will be the acting chief executive from tomorrow (Thursday), has said he will meet a representative from the anti-CAS group.