Lawlor outburst over Carthy’s decision to cut back festival freebie 05/11/15 : the

Lawlor outburst over Carthy’s decision to cut back festival freebie 05/11/15

| November 5, 2015

When the Mayor of Wexford Ger Carthy decided not to take his family, friends and supporters to a night at the opera at taxpayers’ expense he could hardly have imagined the verbal assault he would suffer from the Labour Party.

For some time the Mayor of the day has had the privilege of gathering together those important to him, dressing up and heading for the Opera House. Some refreshments would be on offer we hear, perhaps even a pre-opera dinner, or a post opera supper and the bill for the whole thing would be picked up by the Council.

Carthy told his colleagues at their October meeting that he would be attending the opera as a guest on opening night and on other occasions and while he fully supported the festival and the Council’s funding of it he did not think it was appropriate to have the Council foot the bill for the Mayor’s night at a time when the local authority finances were stretched, there was a problem with homelessness and many families were struggling to make ends meet.

There were nods and murmurs of support for his decision but not from the Labour Party’s sole member on the Wexford Municipal District Council, George Lawlor. As a former Mayor he alleged that the current Mayor’s decision was a slight on previous holders of the Office.

Lawlor, an accomplished singer, has a pretty powerful voice and he raised it to ever increasing levels to tear into the Mayor but when he questioned the spending of money to bring the Council Stage to Our Lady’s Island for the pilgrimage season Cllr. Carthy fought back saying that If the government could only find €3 per week for old age pensioners in the budget he couldn’t justify spending money taking personal guests to the Opera.

As things got even more heated there was a threat to suspend the meeting before order was restored and the Director of Services Tony Larkin strongly rebuffed the questioning of the spend on bringing the stage to Our Lady’s Island for the Pilgrimage Season which he described as an important event which probably had not been given the recognition or support it deserved from the council in the past.

And he said the stage had been erected for much less important events in Wexford town in the past and pointed out that the new Council had a responsibility to support events right cross the district in both urban and rural areas.

Cllr Deirdre Wadding applauded the Mayor’s decision and said it showed leadership and a bit of solidarity with hard pressed families while former Mayor Davy Hynes said he saw absolutely no slight on previous Mayors from the current Mayor’s decision. People made their own decisions based on what was appropriate for the time and he supported Mayor Carthy in doing that.

The exchange over the Mayor saving a couple of thousand quid on a night at the opera was the most heated since this current Council came into Office, more heated than any issue around water charges, hospital waiting lists, cuts to education SNAs, the Property Tax or anything else.

Cutting back on the Council’s entertainment spend at the Opera Festival was an unlikely issue to cause fireworks in the Council Chamber but that’s exactly what happened. The mild mannered councillor Frank Staples, who was sitting beside Cllr Lawlor, was visibly taken back by the exchange and was cowering in his seat at the height of the Labour man verbal assault on the First Citizen.

A free night at the opera is something worth defending, it seems.

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