Longford County Mayor Sean Farrell has reacted to calls for his resignation in the aftermath of last week’s ‘Tweetgate’ controversy, saying his presence to jointly chair a meeting of town and county councils might detract from the discussions.
Cllr Farrell was replying to a recent article in the Longford Leader in which Town Cllr Tony Flaherty raised question marks over Cllr Farrell’s position as county mayor.
Cllr Flaherty said the Mayor should consider his position at the helm after Cllr Farrell signalled his intention to stand aside when both authorities meet to discuss the county’s economic future.
Those remarks were later posted on social network site ‘Twitter’ by the Leader, leading to the Newtowncashel-based representative to clarify his earlier comments at last week’s county council meeting.
“The reason I said that (to decline jointly chairing meeting) was in view of statements I have made in the past in relation to the Town Council,” he said, conceding the storm had attracted “real oxygen” in the media over the past two weeks.
“I have my points of view and I have expressed them and in the interests of fairness, transparency and that there will be no diversion of the core objective of the exercise, that is the only reason (to step aside as co-chairperson). I think it is a very legitimate and fair point of view and proper action to take under the circumstances.”
Cllr Farrell’s stance warmly received by many of his colleagues. Cllrs Mae Sexton and Paul Connell said they were pleased to see the mayor clarify the situation, as did Fine Gael’s John Duffy.
“You are entitled to your views, you made your statements and you have stood by them,” remarked Cllr Duffy. “I think the reason you said what you said last month was for the betterment of the meeting.”
Cllr Paddy Belton said remarks made by Cllr Farrell last year, that town councils were little more than “talking shops”, had probably led to what he termed “a bit of hot steam” in the months since.
Indicating his support to the county mayor, the Kenagh politician told Cllr Farrell: “That’s your opinion. It was tweeted by someone here in the corner. It certainly wasn’t me that tweeted it.”
Cllr Belton meanwhile said deputy mayor Cllr Micheal Carrigy was a more than able deputy to fill the void when both local authorities do meet.
In the meantime, Cllr Farrell has time to consider whether to accept an invitation to the April sitting of Longford Town Council.
Referring to that offer, its current mayor Cllr Peggy Nolan said it was an offer she hoped Cllr Farrell would accept.
“It’s (Longford Town Council) a local authority that I believe has served the people of Longford urban area extremely well. I know your opinion on Town Councils, it differs to mine but we will agree to disagree.”