CLARE County Council has written to Kilrush Town Councillor Tom Prendeville on six occasions in an effort to elicit an apology for a comment passed to a member of their staff at a traffic management meeting in Kilrush in February.
However, Councillor Prendeville insists that he did apologise in February and claims his apology is written into the minutes of that meeting. While he described the apology as “contrite and sincere”, Councillor Prendeville claims he was contacted six weeks later and told that the apology wasn’t sufficient.
The comment was made during a debate on the placement of double yellow lines on both sides of the Back Road, outside St Senan’s National School in Kilrush. Councillor Prendeville opposed this development, which has led to parents having to park illegally when dropping and collecting their children from school.
RIMS meetings are believed to be unique to Kilrush Town Council. They are held in camera, deal with traffic management issues in Kilrush and are attended by town councillors and town management.
This revelation follows last Thursday’s abandonment of the December Kilrush Town Council meeting after a heated exchange between Councillor Prendeville and town manager, Anne Haugh.
In a statement to The Clare Champion, Clare County Council has indicated that no further RIMS meetings will be held until Councillor Prendeville furnishes a complete apology for his comment in February.
“Councillor Prendeville was contacted and asked to read an apology at the start of the next RIMS meeting, apologising for comments made to council staff, withdrawing the comments and undertaking not to repeat such comments in the future,” the council statement read.
The council say they didn’t hear back from Councillor Prendeville until June, when he made it clear he would not apologise.
“The council is unwilling to hold any further RIMS meetings until such time as Councillor Prendeville is prepared to commence the next meeting with an apology. Councillor Prendeville and other councillors know that no further meeting will be held until such time as he apologises,” Clare County Council reiterated.
The row escalated last week, when the December town council meeting was abandoned during a motion forwarded by Councillor Liam O’Looney, which addressed the ongoing double yellow lines issues on the Back Road.
“I’m not going to raise my voice but I am so disappointed that it has taken 10 months to get a reply. I don’t think that’s satisfactory,” Councillor Prendeville said of town manager Anne Haugh’s written response.
“There is total and utter chaos there every single morning. We have effectively turned a blind eye to it. Does this council wants 400 parents to come in a deputation to the town hall and bring in the management led by the reverend chairman to tell us what hasn’t been happening and about the lack of action?” he added.
Ironically, Councillor Prendeville then appeared to apologise for his comments at the RIMS meeting in February.
“I regretted many of the hard words that I had and I apologise. But I’ll tell you this now, this [reply] is a bit of an insult and it’s spoiling the spirit of Christmas for me. It’s not good enough. I think Councillor O’Looney’s motion deserves more time than what was given here today. I have been in the council 30 years and that’s the worst reply I ever got in my life. I don’t want to read it again. Please defer the motion and put it down for January. It’s the most obvious priority we have. I said I’d sort the problem out with two cans of paint at the cost of €60. In-action is not the way to go about this,” he said.
The written reply stated that “all available resources have been committed towards a priority list of projects. Any proposals, therefore, in relation to the options for the Back Road would clearly involve re-prioritisation of the agreed works and a diversion of allocated resources”.
At last week’s meeting, Ms Haugh said the council had undertaken, many months ago, to resolve the issue. “It’s very small print but any of ye that want to get your magnifying glass out, you will see the date on the [accompanying] drawings. I committed to this council that I would get the design office to look at alternatives for the Back Road. That happened and the date on the drawings is February 13, 2013. There were numerous attempts made after that to have a meeting with the members to discuss those options. A format could not be agreed on how business was to be transacted at that meeting,” the town manager started.
A row then erupted during which Councillor Prendeville said he was “more qualified” than the town manager, who left the meeting in protest.