Councillors move to stop closure of three Sligo libraries

Section 140 motion to force council chief executive to keep branch libraries open

Minister for Local Government Simon Coveney: met with Ciarán Hayes, chief executive of Sligo County Council on September 21st to discuss staffing crisis. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Local Government Simon Coveney: met with Ciarán Hayes, chief executive of Sligo County Council on September 21st to discuss staffing crisis. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The battle to save Sligo’s three libraries will gather momentum on Monday morning when county councillors unanimously back a Section 140 motion forcing the chief executive to keep them open.

The three branch libraries in Sligo, Ballymote and Tubbercurry are under threat with the chief executive Ciarán Hayes insisting that he does not have staff to maintain existing services. Under a financial plan agreed with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Sligo County Council has been told to cut its workforce by 42 per cent.

Last week councillors rejected a proposal to increase local property tax (LPT) by 15 per cent, a rise which they were told would generate an extra €750,000 a year. The chief executive, who met Minister for Local Government Simon Coveney on September 21st to discuss the crisis, said the LPT increase would also have meant a €200,000 reduction in the surplus the council is required to pay to central Government for the next three years, a saving which could have been used to hire library staff.

Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Healy who has proposed the Section 140 motion, said that if the Minister was considering reducing the surplus by €200,000, “he obviously can see that the financial plan is not working”.

Independent councillor Declan Bree said the Section 140 motion had the unanimous backing of all the members of the council, reflecting “the level of frustration among the elected representatives” at the failure of the Executive to resolve the ongoing library crisis.

Under the Local Government Act 2001, councillors can pass a section 140 motion. Under this clause of the Local Government Act, elected representatives can compel the county council chief executive to carry out their wishes.