‘Councillors are powerless’ – Connaughton walks away, disillusioned with red tape
Cllr. Connaughton has confirmed to the Roscommon People that he is to resign from his role as a county councillor due to “disillusionment” with the local government system.
Asked by the Roscommon People if his decision to quit local politics is a prelude to running for national parliament, Cllr. Connaughton indicated that this was highly unlikely.
“I was never going to be a career politician…I got involved in order to help the people of my community. You’re asking me if I would run for the Dáil again (Cllr. Connaughton ran for Fianna Fáil in the 2014 Roscommon-South Leitrim by-election). At the present time I would be ruling it out”.
Pressed as to whether or not he was definitively closing the door on politics, Cllr. Connaughton indicated that he was, but added: “Well, if politics changes, my decision could change”.
Cllr. Connaughton, elected to Roscommon County Council in 2014 and re-elected in 2019, says he is frustrated that he isn’t in a position to serve this full Council term. However, he has become increasingly disillusioned – and says he is saying out loud what most of his Council colleagues are saying privately.
“The reason I’m resigning is because I am disillusioned with all the red tape…with the slow manner in which local government operates, often in relation to matters of great importance. If the local authority doesn’t want to fast-track something, councillors are powerless. Councillors’ powers have been greatly reduced. We are only ticking boxes and rubberstamping (decisions of the executive)”.
Cllr. Connaughton said that councillors end up attending meetings and passing matters without having any real opportunity to make amendments. He says concerns which are raised by councillors in relation to important matters – such as the upcoming County Development Plan – are largely ignored.
Recently, Cllr. Connaughton vented his frustration over the Lough Funshinagh flooding saga. He offered to invite an expert to address the Council – at Cllr. Connaughton’s own expense – but this offer was rejected.
“Yeah, the Lough Funshinagh situation is really the last straw for me. I find that the buck gets passed between local authorities and other agencies…such as the OPW”.
Cllr. Connaugton (38) says his resignation will take effect once his supporters have selected a prospective replacement.
“I am confirming that I will be resigning…there is no question about that. Once the selection process (for a replacement) is completed, I will step down. I need to ensure that the seat does not go back to Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael…”
Cllr. Connaughton, an auctioneer and farmer, is from a very well-known family in Athleague. His father, Martin, was a Fianna Fáil councillor for many years.
Cllr. Connaughton said that he wants to thank the thousands of people who have supported him over the years.
“It has been an honour to represent these people and I thank them for their support. I believe the best way for me to contribute to my community now is in a voluntary capacity”.