Clonmel councillor Pat English
Clonmel Mayor Richie Molloy and other elected representatives, unhappy with a move to break up a district council comprising of Clonmel and Cahir members after the next local elections in May, will confront Minister John Paul Phelan on the issue when he visits Clonmel on Monday week.
A special meeting of the Clonmel Borough District council was called last week when elected representatives became aware that Minister Phelan is proposing to proceed with a plan to break up the council which has consisted of members from Clonmel and Cahir for the last five years.
Mayor Molloy and other members ( not all) from both Clonmel and Cahir expressed their shock this week and said they could not understand why Minister Phelan was going against a recommendation of the Boundary Comission which recommended that while for election purposes only, Clonmel and Cahir would be in different wards, those elected would continue to sit on the same body as they have done for the last five years.
Under Minister Phelan's proposa,l the Cahir members elected will now go with members of the Cashel/Tipperary municipal district and the Clonmel members elected, the number of which has been increased from five to six, will sit on their own as a six member authority.
"I will be asking Minister Phelan why he is proposing this . I would like to know who asked for this. Tipperary County Council management or members did not ask for it and the Boundary Comission did not recommend it so why does he want to proceed with such a plan. It is a very strange decision " said mayor Molloy.
He said that some might argue that Clonmel members sitting on their own authority would lead some to believe that Clonmel Corporation was back.
"That is not going to be the case, far from it. Clonmel Corporation had twelve members with its own autonomy that could make its own decisions on how to spend commercial rates.
“The authority that will exist after May will only have six members and will only have the same very limited powers as the body that now exists and wil have no separate funding from central government" said the mayor
Cllr. Pat English said he was totally against the proposal being made by Minister Phelan.
He thanked Deputy Mattie McGrath for arranging a meeting between public representatives and Minister Phelan in Clonmel at the Town Hall on February 25.
"If this goes ahead Clonmel will be one of the smallest authorities in the country. That is not on for the biggest town in the county.
It is a downgrade, no doubt about it, and we should be trying to stop it" said Cllr English.
Fine Gael general election candidate Garret Ahearn said he met with Minister Phelan last Thursday in Carrick-on-Suir to discuss the matter.
"While I can of course understand the frustration of councillors with any kind of a change this near to the local elections, I do agree with the formation of a standalone municipal district for Clonmel.
“ One of the main criticisms after the last review was the ending of borough councils. I believe this decision is based on recognising the mistakes made in the Clonmel district from the previous boundary change before the 2014 Local elections.
“The initial recommendations of the independent committee saw the new four-seat Cahir district sit with Clonmel municipal district council but a last-minute change last week saw Cahir moved into the Cashel Tipperary municipal district, meaning that people from the likes of Ardfinnan and Clogheen would now find themselves part of the Cashel Tipperary municipal district council
“I informed him of the disappointment felt within the Cahir district with this decision. This is the second time in as many elections that the Cahir district has been moved around just to fill numbers and spaces for other municipal districts.”
The matter was discussed at a meeting of Tipperary County Council on Monday in Clonmel.
At the council meeting Cllr. Siobhan Ambrose said she agreed with Minister Phelan's proposal to have Clonmel as a stand alone authority after the next local elections.
She was happy that Minister Phelan had taken on board requests from public representatives that Clonmel should be a stand alone authority which were made prior to the amalgamation.
Cllr. Ambrose described Minister Phelan's plan as a "step in the right direction".
"Anybody would think you were John Paul Phelan's secretary", Cllr. Andy Moloney told Cllr. Ambrose.
Mayor Richie Molloy said Clonmel/Cahir had worked successfully. He could see no merit in putting Cahir members in with those elected from Tipperary Town/Cashel.
He could not understand why the authorities were being "torn apart" after the last five years, he stated
Cllr. Martin Lonergan said he was totally bemused by the decsion of Minister Phelan as it made no sense whatsoever.
"This is not a return to the Borough Council for Clonmel, it is a downgrading of Clonmel if it is anything" said Cllr Lonergan.
Cllr. Catherine Carey said she was upset by the proposal of the Minister.
She believed the councillors of Clonmel and Cahir worked very hard together for the last five years.
Cllr. Marie Murphy said a meeting was arranged with Minister Phelan and there would be a lot of questions for him to answer on the matter.
She believed members should wait and see what happened at the meeting before making any decision on taking any action.