AN ‘emergency motion’ calling on Túsla to come before Carlow County Council to address the provision of a women’s refuge in the county led to some heated exchanges at this month’s local authority meeting.
Cllr Adrienne Wallace stated that in light of an allocation of €1.5m by Túsla for domestic violence services in Carlow, she felt it necessary to bring forward this emergency motion. She suggested that the funding appeared to be allocated for additional outreach workers for Carlow and not the long-awaited women’s refuge.
“I hope you will support this; I know there is a degree of animosity towards me, but this is bigger than any political party,” she said to fellow members.
However, it quickly emerged that some councillors were unaware this late motion was being brought before the council and a number hadn’t even seen a copy of it. This sparked a passionate debate on standing orders and council procedures.
Senior executive office Eamonn Brophy clarified that ten members must be in favour in order to get an emergency motion on the agenda.
Cllr Fintan Phelan objected to the manner in which he had received notification from cllr Wallace. “I was handed a letter and then stood over and asked to read it”, minutes before the meeting began. “That’s not how you should conduct yourself. I need time to review the motion,” he added.
Cllr Andrea Dalton then remarked: “I was not aware of it; I haven’t received any documentation. This has nothing to do with the content of the motion; I just didn’t know it existed,” she said.
Cllr Arthur McDonald suggested he was “bypassed deliberately”, adding that he would have supported the motion, but he “wasn’t asked”. Cllr Charlie Murphy agreed that the motion needed to be “circulated properly”.
“To be fair, every member has to respect the procedures, but the motion is plausible,” said cllr Michael Doran.
“When did you all turn into snowflakes?” quipped a frustrated cllr John Cassin, a comment that sparked a strong reaction from some members.
Cllr Wallace confirmed that she had printed 17 copies of the motion and handed them out just before the meeting began. She stated that cllr Dalton had been late and therefore didn’t get a copy.
Cllr Dalton immediately responded, insisting she was not late, adding: “I won’t have that on my record.” She also described being called a snowflake as “disrespectful”.
Cathaoirleach John Pender stated that he would allow the motion if it was supported by ten members. This was then agreed by a show of hands. Cllr Wallace’s proposal was seconded by cllr Cassin.
Cllr Phelan stated that he had a difficulty with the wording of the motion, as it suggested an ‘either/or’ situation between the provision of a refuge or the additional outreach workers. He called for the wording to be changed.
Cllr Dalton described the progress on a women’s refuge as “unacceptably slow” and stated she was happy to agree to call in Túsla to explain “why the women of Carlow do not have the services they need”.
The motion was amended, calling on Túsla to send a representative to the November meeting of Carlow County Council to speak to members on the provision of a women’s refuge in the county. It was then agreed by a show of hands.