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Breen asks Council to seek legal action over Ailwee Caves

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Legal action is being sought by Clare County Council on the request of one councillor in the aftermath of a debate this week.

Cllr James Breen asked the local authority to get legal advice on the back of previous motion of his which proposed the Council hold a monthly meeting at Ailwee Caves to commemorate the fortieth birthday of its opening to the public.

Speaking at the June meeting of the local authority, Breen announced that the motion couldn’t have been turned down because it was signed by the Council. Cathaoirleach Tom McNamara told the Independent councillor that the motion failed on a vote of five for and seven against. Breen replied “three quarters have to vote against it”, he then requested an answer from the CEO, Pat Dowling.

“I will answer because I made the ruling”, said McNamara. He then explained for ordinary motions it must have a “standard majority” but required a three quarters majority for it to take place outside of the council.

“What does it take to change an act of a council” asked Cllr Breen, he put a request to the CEO on how an alteration could arise if it was signed by the local authority. He then appealed for the Council to seek legal advice on how such issues should be handled.

In conversation with The Clare Echo in the aftermath of the meeting, Cllr Breen outlined his frustration. “I’m very very disappointed, the top table couldn’t answer the question, I asked them what does it take the change an act of the council, I mean they’ve to go and get legal advice on that but it’s very simple, I know it can be done but I’m not going to tell them how to do it.

“I put the motion forward in all good faith and the motion was voted down five votes to seven with three abstentions, the fact about it is there is a standing order which says three quarters of the council must vote against it but the standing order don’t say whether it’s a quarter of the members of the council or three quarters of the council present and voting, the standing order isn’t clear and the standing order must be cleared up”.

He added, “It’s no skin off my nose whether or not the meeting is held in the Ailwee Caves, I was asked by a person to know would we hold a meeting there to celebrate their fortieth anniversary and I thought it would be a very nice gesture, it’s one of the gems in the crown in North Clare with the Cliffs of Moher, Loop Head and along the coast into Killaloe, I think we should be doing something to promote tourism and not to treat it negatively like it was treated at the meeting”.

A spokesperson for Clare County Council told The Clare Echo, “The Councillor’s request will be discussed by the Executive and the standing orders committee”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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