‘Queen not welcome here’ say Carrick councillors

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

Cashel Town Council may be extending the hand of welcome to Queen Elizabeth 11 by inviting her to the City of the Kings during her Irish visit but Carrick-on-Suir’s political leaders have voted against inviting her to their home town.

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council decided by an overwhelmingly six votes to two to reject a proposal to invite the British monarch and President Mary McAleese to the town’s Tudor Manor during her historic trip.

The proposal, tabled by Independent Cllr Pierce O’Loughlin, was voted on at Carrick-on-Suir Town Council’s March meeting following a debate, which descended into a row after Fianna Fail Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan declared that the Queen’s visit was badly timed and she should pay for the costs of her trip to Ireland from her own pocket..

Cllr O’Loughlin argued that a visit by the Queen Elizabeth 11 to the Tudor Manor, which had connections with the British crown, would put Carrick-on-Suir on the map and help get the castle on the bus tour route.

Fellow independent Cllr Patsy Fitzgerald seconded the motion but stressed that while he supported the proposal, he feared any invitation from the Council would be too late.

He said he decided against tabling a motion himself requesting the Council invite the Queen to Carrick-on-Suir because he didn’t think the Town Council had much chance of success as the Queen was only staying in Ireland 48 hours and would be confining her trip to the Dublin area and possibly Coolmore Stud because of her love of horse racing. “If she was going to visit use for longer, I think there would be more of a chance of being successful,” he said.

But it emerged that he was the only councillor to support Cllr O’Loughlin’s idea.

Fianna Fail Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan said she had no problem with the Queen coming to Ireland but she believed she should pay for the trip from her own pocket.

Her 48-hour visit was going to cost this country millions in security measures at a time when people’s wages were being cut and country was practically bankrupt.

“She is more than welcome but she should pay for it herself. She is one of the richest women in England. I read that we are a country in bankruptcy. I think the timing is wrong. I think it’s unfair the cost should be put on the people.

Cllr Fitzgerald described Cllr Cooney-Sheehan’s comments as “outrageous” and pointed out that Mary McAleese wasn’t required to pay her own way when she made a State visit to Britain.

Cllr Cooney-Sheehan shot back that Mary McAleese was elected, unlike the Queen, whom she described as a private individual and one of the richest people in the world.

Fine Gael Cllr Margaret Croke said she agreed with Cllr Cooney-Sheehan. “There are so many more important things happening in Ireland... Granted, I welcome the Queen and anybody coming to the country as long as they are not a terrorist.”

Fianna Fail Cllr Kieran Bourke said he was amazed to see this motion on the meeting agenda and more amazed by the councillor, who proposed it. Cllr O’Loughlin had been talking and writing over the last few months about the costs imposed on Carrick-on-Suir’s rate payers but if the Queen came to Carrick-on-Suir rate payers would end up paying rates just to cover some of the cost of her security. “It’s ridiculous. He should be putting in far better motions to promote Carrick-on-Suir.”

Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Walsh said he would rather see the “devil and his mother come to Carrick-on-Suir than the Queen of England. If she was to visit Carrick-on-Suir, he asked that he be given a few days notice so he could be out of town at the time.

The motion was opposed by Mayor of Carrick-on-Suir Cllr Richie O’Neill, Cllr Kieran Bourke, Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan, Cllr Margaret Croke, Cllr Martin Henzey and Cllr Liam Walsh. Cllr Denis Landy was absent from the meeting.