Mayor 'wrong' over Norris decision


The new mayor of Galway has said she intends to try and reverse a decision which she had earlier supported today to prevent Senator David Norris from addressing Galway City Council.

The independent senator had sought permission from the council to address the full chamber in September as part of his bid to win support for the presidency.

However, Mayor Hildegarde Naughton (FG) used her casting vote to refuse the application.

Several hours after the meeting tonight, however, she said that there had been an “error of judgement”, and she intended to do everything in her power to reverse the decision.

“There was a tied vote, and I should have used my casting vote to support Senator Norris’s application to speak,” she told The Irish Times.

The next council meeting is not until September, but she said she intended to speak to the council about the issue – which could involve convening a special meeting.

Three Fianna Fáil councillors, Michael Crowe, Ollie Crowe and Peter Keane, three Fine Gael councillors, Mayor Naughton, Padraig Conneely and Frank Fahy and one independent councillor, Donal Lyons, voted to reject the senator’s bid to speak.

Those who supported Senator Norris’s application to speak were five Labour councillors — Niall McNeilis, Colette Connolly, Nuala Nolan, Tom Costello and Billy Cameron — and independents Catherine Connolly and Terry O’Flaherty.

Independent councillor Declan McDonnell abstained.

Senator Norris was not present for the vote. Independent candidate Dermot Mulqueen from Co Clare addressed the meeting, and Special Olympics director Mary Davis was also given permission to address the council in September.

Two representatives of Ms Davis had asked to speak tonight, but it was decided that Ms Davis should attend in September.

Commenting on his decision to reject the application, former Fine Gael mayor Padraig Conneely said that his party had selected its own candidate for the presidency, Gay Mitchell.

“Senator Norris is in politics, and he knows the way the system works,” Cllr Conneely said. “He has to take his chances, and not be looking for political parties to back him.”

Meanwhile, Ms Davis took a step closer to securing the support of enough councils to take part in the election when Mayo County Council voted today to support her candidacy.

She already has the backing of Monaghan and Louth County Councils.