Saturday, 19 April 2014

Connecting with ghosts of the past


It can only have been the heat. 

  Something – and I presume it was the brilliant sunshine – must have drained the energy of councillors as, like a football team collectively struggling with their first touch, they produced an unmercifully dull monthly meeting on Monday. 

  They say that if you can’t stand the heat you should get out of the kitchen – on Monday it was a case of ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the chamber.’ 

  A number of councillors did just that, leaving early, perhaps to savour some of the delightful sunshine outside.  

  There was pretty much a full attendance for the first half of Monday’s meeting, but most of the Fine Gael councillors had gone for their buckets and spades by 5 o’clock in the evening. It wasn’t lost on the Fianna Fail side of the chamber that one of the last items on the agenda was Roscommon County Hospital. 

  Fianna Fail Councillor John Cummins wasn’t impressed and decided to……well, call a spade a spade. 

  Why is it, he wondered, that every time we try to discuss Roscommon Hospital, most of the ‘government side’ have mysteriously left the chamber? 

  It turns out that he was right. Most of them had left. Only Cllrs. Sean Beirne and Liam Callaghan remained behind, the shadow of the hospital almost visible on their shoulders. 

  In the circumstances, said Cllr. Cummins, we should defer discussion on the hospital and bring it forward to the beginning of the next meeting (when it could reasonably be assumed that most or all Fine Gael councillors will be present). The HAC’s Cllr. Valerie Byrne nodded approvingly and the Mayor, Cllr. Eugene Murphy, quickly ruled in favour. 

  You could almost hear the sound of buckets, spades and mouths dropping. 

  It was a dull meeting, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some important business. Of course, in this occasional Council sketch, we try to minimise the references to serious matters. But….how to draw colour from such dullness? 

  We’ll try. During a slightly bizarre start to a presentation by Alan Gallagher of Connect Ireland (a company which is aiming to attract jobs to Roscommon) the eloquent speaker was good-humouredly interrupted by Cllrs. Sean Beirne and Michael McGreal, leading Mayor Murphy to chide the duo, rather like a teacher tut-tutting at an unruly pair of wisecrackers in class. 

  More trouble lay ahead for Mr. Gallagher. Just when the Mayor had managed to silence the mischevious Cllr. Beirne, the dreaded computer cock-up struck. Undeterred by that infuriating habit that powerpoint presentations have of letting you down just when you most need them, the gallant Mr. Gallagher continued with his positive message, insisting that Connect Ireland would connect Roscommon with jobs from direct foreign investors. 

  His positivity stood out in a bland meeting. Fiery exchanges were as sparse as rain drops on this very pleasant March Monday. The good weather had indeed lifted all moods. Surprisingly there was no mention of Bertie, Pee Flynn or any aspect of the Mahon Report. A missed opportunity by the Fine Gael side? There were actually one or two half-hearted attempts from the Fianna Fail side to wind up Cllr. Beirne. But it was a meeting without drama or sparks or verbal sparring. Not even one outburst from Cllr. Paddy Kilduff. The heat must have got to him. I am sure normal service will resume in April. 

  Good manners abounded. Mayor Murphy even managed to deliver a blunt message in nice wrapping, responding when Cllr. Tony Ward said “briefly….” 

  Cllr. Murphy: “The word ‘briefly’ and you don’t get on sometimes!” 

   Ah, those sun rays. The warm weather even affected the ‘top table’, with one of the Council staff calling on “Cllr. Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan” to cast his vote at one stage. 

  That had everyone wide awake all of a sudden, and for a moment we glanced around – half expecting to see a ponytailed ghost in a Louis Copeland suit  haunting the chamber. With all this talk of connecting and now a call on ‘Ming’ to vote, it was beginning to resemble a séance. 

   Mention of their old friend and foe who has gone on to higher things – the Dail – prompted several chuckles from councillors. Ah, the memories…..

  We could have done with him being there on Monday. A few ‘Ming-isms ‘ would have brightened proceedings up. 

  Back to the guest presentation, and the man from Connect Ireland (who, in fairness to him, wooed members with his confidence on job creation) was still trying to connect his laptop with his screen. To no avail. 

  Cllr. Domnick Connolly just couldn’t stop himself. 

  “You’ve already created one job – you’ll have to get somebody in to fix that yoke!” 

   


  

Issue dated: 30th March 2012
© Roscommon People