MEMBERs of Kilkenny County Council have agreed to leave no stone unturned in the battle to save James Stephens Barracks, but the rhetoric of presenting a united front in order to save the barracks divided the council.
Cllr Sean O’hArgain was accused of waffling after he made a lengthy speech outlining that the necessity of cutting public services due to the mismanagement of previous governments.
“Its very easy for councillors to call for things to be kept open. The reality is that decisions being taken in relation to the health services, our schools and many other public services are being taken because our country has been bankrupted.
“We are in a position where hugely difficult decisions have to be made in relation to the streamlining of services. as a school principle I’ve had to let a number of Special needs assistants go.
“This is the reality of the mess that we have been left with by the previous government.... ...People are getting very cynical about this and I could hope no-one is playing silly games in relation to the barracks.
This is a realistic call on the Minister for Defence, that a hugely historic and significant part of the defence force be maintained as it is at present.”
Fianna Fail’s Joe Malone took the floor and said that he wasn’t going to engage in the waffling of the previous speaker. “I suppose i one thing that I’m not going to do is engage in the waffling that Cllrr O’hArgain engaged in there for the last few minutes, this is a very serious issue,” he said.
When Sean O’hArgain protested at the personal attack Cllr Malone responded “I’m sick of it you interrupting every time I’m trying to speak.”
The Mayor intervened to try and get the chamber to return to topic. Cllr Malone, agreed to return to subject if he could continue “with out interruption from the waffler over there.” Cllr Malone was asked to with draw that remark.
Cllr Brett then interjected on a point of order. The former Mayor pointed out that comments should be made through the chair. Mayor Fitzgerald agreed with Cllr Brett and said that all remarks should be made through the chair and that their should be no personal remarks.
Cllr Malone agreed to proceed before turning his sights to Cllr Brett. “Cllr Brett with the greatest of respect, you were up there for the last 12 months your down here now. You got your turn last year.”
After the theatrics it was agreed that the council should send a delegation consisting of the Mayor and the Chairperman of the County Council, Paul Cuddihy to meet with Minister Shatter and seek clarity on the future of the barracks.
Fianna Fail Cllr Joe Reidy said “What we have here is a threat to 270 jobs. If this was a company we’d be up on our horses to Dublin. We can’t leave any stone unturned. We need to present a united front and put an end to all the political point scoring.”