Not for the first time, there was more than a shade of derision between Longford’s most senior elected member and the group leader of Fine Gael last week, writes Liam Cosgrove.
Cathaoirleach, Cllr Mark Casey and Fine Gael Cllr Micheal Carrigy re-opened their war of words over the money troubles still being faced by St Christopher’s Services.
Cllr Casey opened what was billed as a ‘special meeting’ by calling into question claims a meeting with Health Minister Leo Varadkar had gone favourably.
He said “deliberate mistruths” had been handed to the local media and questioned why, following that meeting, he fielded phonecalls from Fine Gael members asking for last week’s special meeting to be cancelled.
“I was disappointed that a meeting went ahead with the minister without any notificiation to the mayor of this council,” he said.
“A number of councillors took it upon themselves to go to Dublin with members of the parents committee and local TD. Following that meeting, to say it was a success was even sadder and to get a call from two councillors asking me to cancel this meeting today reflected how sad and how low this is actually getting.”
Appearing more and more agitated by the minute, Cllr Casey turned his anger towards Cllr Carrigy, claiming the Ballinalee postmaser had gone on a “solo run” by meeting Mr Varadkar without his knowledge.
It was an allegation, Cllr Carrigy was keen to dismiss.
“I don’t agree with that,” he replied.
“I said at that (September) meeting the first opportunity I would get I would try and meet Minister Varadkar and that’s what I done.
“I put forward the case that had been put to me and my reasons for doing that was to try and get in prior to the Budget negotiations. I have no apologies to make. I was only doing what I was elected to do.”
Cllr Casey shook his head at those comments, stating his Fine Gael colleague was simply “rehashing” what he had said at a previous meeting.
“No, your rehashing things Mayor by making that comment again that I was making a solo run,” Cllr Carrigy blasted back.
As for his reasons in pushing for a cancellation to last Wednesday evening’s meeting, Cllr Carrigy said there was nothing sinister in that either.
He maintained the possibility only arose following talks with Mr Varadkar and the imminent completion of a consultancy report on St Christopher’s staffing levels.
“Calling off this meeting was done after speaking to Pat (O’Toole) in Dublin.
“If this Wolfe Report could be done, it could be put in place in time for the November meeting.
“There was no one trying to fudge any issues.”