Councillors to discuss closed meetings as decision branded 'deeply undemocratic'

Councillors to discuss closed meetings as decision branded 'deeply undemocratic'

COUNCILLORS are to discuss a decision to hold city council local area meetings behind closed doors.

The Echo this week revealed that the majority of newly introduced local area committee meetings will be held behind closed doors, while the number of full council meetings will be halved to one a month.

The Green Party are expected to submit a motion to the first meeting of the new city council on Monday evening asking for local area meetings to be open to the public.

A small number of the local area meetings — where specific issues are up for discussion — will be made open to the public but these will have to be agreed by council members and it is unclear how often these will take place.

It has also emerged that the city council chief executive will not be available to answer questions at local area meetings and will now only take public questions from councillors at full meetings.

Minutes of these meetings will be published on the Cork City Council website after they take place.

However, City Hall’s new structures contrast with Cork County Council which hosts 10 open municipal district meetings, two full council meetings and divisional meetings every month.

Newly elected city councillors have expressed annoyance that they were not involved in the decision-making process regarding new meeting structures which were taken by party whips before the last council term ended.

Former independent county councillor Ger Keohane, who was recently elected to the city council, told The Echo he believes it is not on the best interests of the public to have meetings closed off.

“We need the media there to be able to inform the public. The media has to be involved, there is just no other way about it. We need to change this and I will be pushing this and will support the Green Party motion,” he said.

Councillor Ted Tynan of the Workers’ Party said the new City Hall structures are “disturbing” and “deeply undemocratic”, while Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said he does not see why Cork City Council cannot give full public access to meetings where decisions are made that affect them.

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