Statement regarding AGM of Cork County Council

Copy of my email sent to all independents prior to the AGM of Cork County Council.

Dear all,

I am very conscious that we all voluntarily came together as a group of Independents last Saturday with an agreed spokesperson and that whilst much water has gone under the bridge since Tuesday, I have spoken to just some and not all of you on my position.

I do not wish to be part of the “agreement” proposed on Tuesday prior to our induction meeting in the Chamber. My reasons are myriad, but the primary and over-riding one is that I cannot and will not give up even the perception of the independence which was so important to those who voted for me. I have no desire to wear a chain nor to hold the position of a chair. Therefore I do not consider that a 5-year alignment with any political grouping in return for these positions is adequate reward for the loss of the absolute independence I guaranteed to those who placed their trust in me. Whilst I appreciate that we will have months to work on the budget prior to its being brought before full Council, I cannot commit to supporting a budget about which I may have reservations for any of those five years. The aims to be worked towards in the run-up to the budget do not come close to meeting the priorities I outlined to those who voted for me. The additional committee positions being offered as part of the proposed agreement do not offer me any opportunity to influence policy in areas where I have expertise.

It was clear from our meeting on Saturday that we had formed a defined group to increase our chances of getting the positions on committees that we particularly wanted. It was also clear that our forming a group would allow us the opportunity to appoint a group chair to an SPC and consequently get to take a seat at CPG meetings. The benefits of this approach are self-evident.

But what was equally clear at Saturday’s meeting was that our formation of a group had no relation to any pact or agreement with any other party. Indeed, this position was voiced and confirmed prior to our going our separate ways. Our individual positions as independent members of the Chamber was also clarified.

I have to be truthful and say that, at a personal level, I was blown away at the leap our voluntary grouping had taken between Saturday lunchtime and Tuesday morning. At our Tuesday meeting, it became clear that negotiations with regard to an agreement with political parties had been undertaken on our group’s behalf. As a member of that group, I certainly had not been informed of even an intention to undertake such negotiations.

As confirmed at our Saturday meeting, each member of our group is independent. Should any one of you wish to be part of the 5-year agreement with Fianna Fail and Labour, that is of course your prerogative. I choose not to be part of it for the aforementioned reasons. I have made it clear to John Paul that as agreed on Saturday, I will support him to take the chair of the SPC of his choice and, indeed, should he wish to propose himself for the position of Mayor tomorrow, I will also support him in that.

As it was clear that the formation of our independent group was not aligned with any agreement or pact of any kind, I hope I am correct in assuming that our independent group will continue to work together towards the aims for which it was established. Should I not be correct in that assumption, I should be grateful if you would let me know.

I look forward to working with all of you.

All the best,