Creation of new post of SPC chair queried by council

Saturday, 15th June, 2019 11:49am

Creation of new post of SPC chair queried by council

New Cavan County Councillors and council executive.jpg

Seamus Enright

The Chief Executive of Cavan County Council has questioned attempts by elected members to push through a proposal to establish an additional policy head position, worth €6,000 per year.

Contrary to Local Authority guidelines, five candidates were nominated to four Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) positions available at the Council’s AGM last week.
At present there are four SPCs covering Economic Development; Environment and Planning; Transportation and Infrastructure; and Housing, Social and Culture. The consideration however is that the remit of Housing, Social and Culture is too broad.
While the Chair of Cavan County Council is a year-long role, the position of Chair of an SPC runs the full five-year term, and is worth up to €30,000.
Those put forward for the positions available were Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley, Sean Smith, Philip Brady, and Fine Gael’s Val Smith.
Fianna Fáil’s Clifford Kelly has been nominated as chair designate to the yet to be established new SPC.
Council Chief Executive Tommy Ryan questioned the necessity of a fifth SPC, pointing out that none of the policy bodies had met more than five times over the past 12 months.


Meanwhile, the former Chair of Cavan County Council has lashed out at perceived unfairness in the divvying out of other appointed roles.
“It’s a very sad day for us on the Fine Gael side. I think we were treated very unfairly,” said Fine Gael’s Madeleine Argue to her opposition members, aiming her barb directly at Fianna Fáil, and their effective majority in Chamber.
“I think you were very mean about allocating roles,” she added, citing behind-the-scenes discussions where Fine Gael held the majority in 2009 and Fianna Fáil apparently felt hard done by. “Fianna Fáil got one-third of everything,” Cllr Argue argued, referencing a prepared breakdown of roles handed out from a decade ago. She concluded by stating: “We’re here to work together, but this could have been handled a lot better.”


Along with losing the role of chair, of particular annoyance to Fine Gael was an embarrassing defeat in trying to get a third party member onto Cavan-Monaghan Education and Training Board.
In a turn of events, that could have consequences for the controversial plan to merge St Bricin’s (Belturbet) and St Mogue’s (Bawnboy) in favour of a €15 million new build in neighbouring Ballyconnell, the party failed in its attempt to have proponent Peter McVitty nominated to the education body.
Here, councillors were statutorily obliged to nominate seven representatives, three of which must be female - Cllr Argue and Carmel Brady (FG), and Patricia Walsh (FF).
Three males were then put forward- Clifford Kelly and Sean Smith (FF), and Belturbet Independent, Brendan Fay. Both Cllrs Smith and Fay have lobbied heavily against the proposed closure of schools in their respective areas.
The last of the seven spots was taken by Aontú’s Sarah O’Reilly, who in the past has also questioned the motives behind the merger.
Cllr McVitty, Fine Gael’s whip, withdrew his name from the running after the meeting was adjourned for a short period and discussions undertaken away from the Chamber and in the Chief Executive’s office nearby.


Elsewhere, Cllr Kelly, and the newly elected Aidan Fitzpatrick (FF) and TP O’Reilly (FG) will represent the Council on the Cavan Local Community Development Committee (LCDC); and Cllr Fitzpatrick, along with Craig Lovett (FF) and Trevor Smith (FG) will sit on the HSE Regional Health Forum.
Sinn Féin’s Paddy McDonald will represent the Council on Irish Public Mutual Insurance Ltd, and Cllrs Smith (FF) and Lovett will sit on the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. Fianna Fáil’s majority muscle was flexed in opposing Fine Gael’s attempt to have Trevor Smith added, with the vote finally split 10-7 with support from Cllrs O’Reilly (Aon) and Fay (Ind), with Cllr McDonald abstaining.
Patricia Walsh, Cllr Feeley (FF), Cllrs T Smith and Argue (FG) were nominated to the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, and Cllrs Kelly and Argue to the Council’s Audit Committee.
Cllrs Walsh, Kelly (FF) and Winston Bennett (FG) have been nominated to the Management Board of the Irish Central Board Area Network Ltd (ICBAN); Cllrs Feeley, O’Reilly (FF), and McVitty (FG) to the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG).
Cllr Kelly, finally, fended off the challenge of Fine Gael’s Winston Bennett to represent the Council on the Local Authority Member’s Association (LAMA); and Cllrs Feeley, Smith (FF) and Bennett were elected to the Local Monitoring Committee (Rural Water).
Attempts will be made to seek additional positions on both the Joint Policing Committee, for which 15 names were nominated to 13 positions available; and Cavan Local Sports Partnership Board, for which eight names were nominated for three positions. On the JPC, the names nominated are: Cllr Feeley, Walsh, Fitzpatrick, Kelly, O’Reilly, Brady, Lovett (FF), O’Reilly (Aon), Fay (Ind), McDonald (SF), McVitty, T Smith, O’Reilly, Brady, and Argue (FG).
On the Sports Partnership Board, the names nominated are: Cllrs Walsh, Fitzpatrick, Lovett (FF), Fay (Ind), Brady, Argue, O’Reilly (FG).
The same accommodations will be sought with regard to nominating one member to Age Friendly Alliance, where two names were put forward- Cllrs Brady (FG) and Fay (Ind); the Cavan Heritage Forum (three positions) Fitzpatrick, O’Reilly (FF), Fay (Ind), and O’Reilly (FG); the North East Regional Drug Taskforce (1)-Fitzpatrick (FF), Brady (FG); and the Tenders Opening Committee (5)- O’Reilly, Walsh, Brady (FF), McVitty, Argue, Val Smith (FG).

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