Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Disgraceful Double dealing and insulting decent people
I promised last night that I would come here today and give the reasons I was angry then. I hoped that my fury would have decreased by now but instead it's got ten times worse.
The front page of our local paper the Kilkenny People carries the story today, and the national papers will follow suit tomorrow with the fact that kilkenny Borough Council, my council and that of the 20,000 people of the city of Kilkenny, have failed to award the Freedom of Kilkenny to Séamus Pattison, the longest-serving parliamentarian in Europe, who retired in June of this year after forty six years continuous membership of Dáil Éireann. He also served for decades on our council and Kilkenny County Council, serving as mayor of Kilkenny and Chairperson of Kilkenny County Council.
His record as a public representative is utterly without blemish, and Séamus was famous for the service he gave to the ordinary people of this city, regardless of political persuasion, colour, class or creed. Even the most begrudging of opponents would admit this. How then could this most noble of honours this city can convey be refused him?
Put simply, the decision to bestow the freedom of the city is taken by the unanaimous vote of all twelve members of the council in secret ballot, after the Mayor of the day has been assured that such a vote will be unanimous. So it was this Monday that our Mayor was assured privately by all members that this would be the case. Between then and the vote a matter of hours later, a number of councillors broke their word!
The upshot is the public humiliation of the Mayor, my colleague Cllr. Joe Cody who proposed the motion in the first place, and of couse Séamus himself. I may be accused of bias because all of the above are my party colleagues, but I find it hard to work out which of these fine people deserves the humiliation least.
What it does mean however is the cheapening of the political process, and all for what? To score a cheap political point while hiding behind the denial and the cover of the secrecy of the ballot? One thing is for sure, those of us who believe in honesty and decency in how we deal with people will not take this one lying down. We will fight to have this process changed so that decent people like these can never again be humitiated in this fashion.
For me, my conscience is clear. My 'Tá' or Yes vote was seen by another councillor, and I would not have dreamed of doing anything else, either for Séamus, of for somebody in any other party whose service to Kilkenny came even close to his. Let my colleagues consciences be equally clear, or those responsible at least have the decency to be ashamed!!