Longford Town Mayor may exclude public from meetings

Any attempts made by Longford Town Council to seek the removal of a member of the public from future meetings may ultimately be up to its mayor to decide.

Any attempts made by Longford Town Council to seek the removal of a member of the public from future meetings may ultimately be up to its mayor to decide.

Last month, an unamed member of the public sparked controversy at a Longford Town Council meeting when presenting a document to one of its members, Cllr Gerry Warnock before leaving.

The correspondence appeared to be aimed at another of its members, Cllr James Keogh, resulting in some representatives, most notably Cllr Tony Flaherty leading calls for the man’s permanent exclusion from the Council’s chamber.

Cllr Keogh has vowed to stay away from future meetings because of the conduct of the unamed individual.

Responding to those concerns and at least half a dozen other elected members, Town Clerk Dan Rooney said the council intended discussing the fallout with its own legal advisor to determine what measures, if any, can be taken.

Mr Rooney said the advice received and course of action left open to the council was still somewhat unclear. “It’s not clear cut. You can’t just pass a resolution to suspend someone indefinitely. Our standing orders allows the mayor to suspend the meeting or order the removal of a person who causes a disruption.”

There had also been suggestions the said individual would have to receive three warnings before being asked to leave, an option which Mr Rooney promptly dismissed this week.

Pressed about what might stem from the resulting legal guidance, one councillor who asked not to be named, warned of events taking an even uglier turn when councillors reconvene in seven days time.

“It’s hard to know what will happen, but James (Cllr Keogh) has said he won’t be coming to any more meetings until this person is removed so this could turn into something more dirty.”

For the man at the centre of the stand-off, Cllr Keogh was reluctant to comment this week, saying he will wait until the results of any legal advice are made known.

“The situation is I am waiting for Dan (Mr Rooney) to come back to me on what the legal advice is. It’s not for me to say at this stage,” was his reply over the weekend.