A Longford Town councillor has refused to apologise over claims senior Longford County Council officials regularly adopt “bullyboy tactics” to make Town Council decisions, as questions continue to linger over its long term future.
Cllr Tony Flaherty rejected calls made by County Manager Tim Caffrey at a recent meeting of the urban local authority that Longford County Council had come in for misguided criticism in relation to the everyday workings and future of Longford Town Council.
In a heated outburst, the Fianna Fail representative said his comments were not directed as a personal attack on Mr Caffrey or the executive of Longford County Council, but were intended to raise concerns about staff cuts within Longford Town Council and the suspected erosion of its powers.
“I will not at any stage retract anything I have said,” he told Mr Caffrey and a hushed council chamber. “And yes I was the one who you said was pointing the finger and using names like ‘bullyboy tactics’. I have no apologies whatsoever for using those terms because they are my opinion. I am entitled to an opinion as a democratically elected person in this town.”
Cllr Flaherty said he had no axe to grind with the country manager and complimented Mr Caffrey with his hands-on approach in overseeing Longford Town Council affairs. He said, however, a lack of communication between the executive and elected members had only served to distance councillors and aggravate an already disillusioned electorate.
“It has been nothing but pure frustration for me over the past number of years fighting our corner and seeing how things have changed. We don’t hear anything that is going on Manager so you have to understand our frustration. It’s got to the stage now where I feel if I want to do Town Council business I have to go to a hatch on Water Street,” he said.
Mr Caffrey defended his record as county manager over the past five years, arguing the point he remained fully supportive of Longford Town Council and its continued status. During his tenure the most senior local authority official in the county, Mr Caffrey said over €60m had been spent on water, housing and its road infrasture alone.
“The Town Council is not being neglected in any way, shape or form. I as county manager made it very clear early on and consistently over the last five years I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in downgrading the Town Council,” he said.
In relation to staffing matters, Mr Caffrey said outbursts directed against Longford County Council had left a lasting mark and were ill-advised.
“There were issues that came up then, there were reports in the paper and it has been alluded to here tonight pointing the finger at certain areas of the county council. I can categorically say to you that finger was wrongly pointed and did a lot of serious damage.”