Aras an Chontae, Carrick-on-Shannon.
Independent councillor, Des Guckian has been accused of “pulling a stunt” and been labelled a “total embarrassment” to Leitrim County Council after he staged another walkout at last Friday’s Council AGM.
Following the unopposed election of Cllr Sean McGowan to the position of Cathaoirleach and Cllr Frank Dolan to Leas Cathaoirleach, Cllr Des Guckian said that these roles had all been agreed as part of a cross party pact four years ago and said: “In my opinion there is no need for this meeting. It was known four years ago who was to be chair.”
He accused the main parties of being a ‘grab-all coalition” and claimed that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had “grabbed all available” positions.
“This is not a democracy. Fianna Fáil has one third of the members and two thirds of the posts.”
Cllr Guckian added he was quite proud of the way he had “stood up to bullying” on a number of issues including acting for the residents of Ros na hInse, and accused the council of “skullduggery.”
“I believe in parity in esteem where everyone has the opportunity to hold 1-2 posts...I am leaving in protest,” he said before exiting the chamber.
His comments provoked outrage in the chamber with Cllr Mary Bohan noting that, when discussions had been undertaken at the start of the current council to try and secure agreement to pass the annual budgets, Cllr Des Guckian had been included in those discussions.
But, she said, he had made his support conditional on being elected to the role of chairperson of the council in the first year, despite the fact he had never sat before on a council.
“He said he wanted to deal with the staff (in the Council) and I can’t repeat the terms he used. They were outrageous,” said Cllr Bohan.
“We’re sick and tired of this ranting and raving from this man,” she said.
“(Walking out) is all about publicity seeking.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson, Cllr Padraig Fallon, pointed out that Sinn Féin were also outside the block taking the leading roles in the council “but we’re all grown up, that’s how politics works. There were negotiations with Cllr (Des) Guckian and the other parties and our proposals (for the Council) didn’t work out. But we (Sinn Féin) have sat down and we got to work for the people of Leitrim as a Council. As is right.”
His party colleague, Cllr Seadhna Logan went further stating his “absolute disgust” at the behaviour of Cllr Des Guckian.
“He’s took a dirty jibe” he said, adding that Cllr Guckian had been selected to serve on committees within the council but has failed to turn up for any of those meetings over the last four years.
“And he doesn’t handle himself well at Carrick-on-Shannon Municipal District meetings. This was a stunt, and only a stunt,” insisted Cllr Logan.
Independent Felim Gurn was equally unimpressed by the conduct of Cllr Des Guckian.
“On a personal level I am glad that Des has no official role in this council. I find him, as an independent, a total embarrassment to the County Council. I am glad he is not representing Leitrim County Council in any official capacity,” he told the chamber.
Cllr Mary Bohan pointed out that discussions had to be held at the start of the current council to try and reach agreement on a number of points, most importantly, the passing of the annual budget.
“This council has always worked together, cross-party, we’ve drawn down the maximum amount of money we can as a council and that’s a tribute to the way we are working together.”
Sinn Féin councillor, Brendan Barry, said his party members had “put on the Leitrim jersey with the rest of the council” even though he and his colleagues held no major roles. “I don’t want to be associated with Cllr Guckian or his remarks.”
Cllr Guckian angered by
At Monday's main council meeting, Cllr Des Guckian expressed his feelings at the comments noted on the minutes of the AGM meeting of Friday, June 29.
He said he left the chamber in protest at the AGM because he felt, “robbed of my rights.” He disputed the wording of the minutes and stressed he had not said the AGM should not be held, but rather that there was no need for the meeting to select the Chair when it had already been agreed who would hold those positions.
He also took exception to the comments made by the other councillors following his exit from the AGM describing it as “backstabbing. Not one of you said a word while I was here.”
Cathaoirleach, Cllr Sean McGowan, pointed out “you had left the meeting and we were responding to your comments as you were going out the door. You left.”
Councillor Des Guckian has written a letter in response to comments by other councillors at the meeting. See next week's Leitrim Observer.