THE County Mayor Declan Hurley has warned that there are days when the volume of driving he has to do makes him a danger to himself and others on the road.
His comments came after a heated debate ensued at the council’s 2018 budget where it was revealed that almost €30,000 has been set aside for transporting the County Mayor, should it be needed. This may include the provision of a driver.
Unlike the Lord Mayor of Cork City, who has a permanent driver, the County Mayor drives himself to events and conferences.
Sinn Féin party leader Des O’Grady raised a number of questions on what the funding is specifically for as the budget summary had referred to an “increase in transportation for the Mayoral office”.
Councillors had agreed to explore options for mayoral transportation on Mayor Hurley’s election in June. However, Mr O’Grady said this decision was not unanimous and questioned why the funding allocation was not flagged before the budget debate.
However, Mayor Hurley said the issue was a health and safety one: “There are days out there when I am a danger to myself and a danger to the public because of the volume of stuff I have to do,” he told councillors.
“I am disappointed that Sinn Féin has to question the provision for a driver for the Mayor. It’s difficult to keep the role of Mayor going and there are days when I am not fit to drive on my own because of the volume of work I am doing,” he added.
His predecessor Seamus McGrath said the profile of the Mayor’s office is important but added health and safety was the priority.
“We have a very large county,” he said.
“I know [as Mayor Hurley’s predecessor] that there are days when your diary is jampacked. You’re starting out early in the morning and you’re coming home late at night.
“The Mayor is left out there on their own,” he added.
Two-time Fine Gael Mayor Kevin Murphy said he found the volume of driving to be a “nightmare” while in office.
County chief executive Tim Lucey said officials were looking at options for a permanent solution to facilitate the Mayor’s transportation.