Carrick-on-Suir FF and FG councillors in angry clash over who’s to blame for the crash

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

Tempers flared at Carrick-on-Suir Town Council meeting between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail councillors over their parties record in running the country as the Council debated the Government’s plans to introduce a property tax.

The Council voted by an overwhelming six votes to one at its October meeting to appeal to the Government not to impose a property tax following a heated debate.

Fine Gael councillor Margaret Croke locked horns with Fianna Fail’s Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan in an impassioned row over their respective parties performance in government.

The arguement erupted after Cllr Cooney-Sheehan argued for her motion seeking the Council’s agreement to request the Government not to introduce a property tax.

Cllr Cooney-Sheehan main-tained the tax would inflict intense hardship on Irish people at a time when it should not be putting more pressure on them as they were struggling to pay other taxes such as commercial rates.

She said if the property tax was introduced the Co. Council would end up spending all its time in the courts pursuing people who hadn’t paid the levy.

Cllr Cooney-Sheehan said there was €1bn in savings the Government could make on cutting pay increments and allowances. The Fine Gael/Labour government had said they would tackle things like this when they came to power but all they were doing was taxing the people.

“It’s not fair; third level education is going up, electricity and gas charges are going up, house insurance has gone up. ...There are people living in houses in negative equity. Their house has no value and they can’t pay their mortgages and they are going to be hit with this property charge,” she complained.

Cllr Croke responded that Cllr Cooney’s Sheehan’s party had caused all this mess and she had the cheek to turn around and table this motion.

“I have palpitations over the state of this country. I wasn’t one of the people who caused it . You were the party of government, you were looking after everything, you were supposed to be our guardian angels but you were asleep for 16 years,” she declared with passion.

Cllr Cooney-Sheehan objected to Cllr Croke’s “verbal attack” but the Fine Gael member continued.

“Rates were abolished 26 years ago, maybe we should have held onto a little bit of rates in this country as a fall back. They were abolished by Fianna Fail because there was votes involved,” Cllr Croke reminded the FF councillor.

“This government isn’t looking for votes, they are trying to put things right and keep them right. I don’t want charges but you have to be realistic.

“The money has to come from somewhere. We will get out of this recession but unfortunately we will all have to pay for the sins of the past,” Cllr Croke concluded.

Following contributions from several other councillors in support of the motion, Cllr Croke resumed criticising Cllr Cooney-Sheehan for tabling the motion.

“You have a cheek to bring up all this because it has to come in,” she said referring to the property tax.

Cllr Cooney-Sheehan stood up and shot back that Cllr. Croke’s party had promised change when it was elected but it hadn’t delivered this.

“The fat cats are still getting the big pensions and that includes members of the government and your own party... €1bn could be saved in pay increments, travel allowances and expenses but they are still being claimed by members of your own government.”

She retorted that she wasn’t to blame for the failures of those higher up in her party and argued that the economic crash in America rather than Fianna Fail caused the recession in Ireland.

“I did not personally create what happened in the past. I was not in the parliamentary party.

“The crash started in America and we got caught up in it. Are you saying Fianna Fail created the whole worldwide crash? We did not and just don’t blame it on me.”

At this point the motion was put to a vote and Cllr Croke was the only councillor to vote against.

Cllr Cooney-Sheehan was joined by Cllrs Pierce O’Loughlin, Patsy Fitzgerald, Martin Henzey, Mayor Cllr Liam Walsh, Cllr Richie O’Neill in voting in favour of the motion and it was agreed the Council would write to Finance Minister Michael Noonan requesting the property tax be ditched.