Kildare County Council could legally have held debate on 8th Amendment, Mayor admits

Mayor told recent Kildare County Council meeting that he took legal advice on letting a motion be debated, but this was not paid for by the taxpayer

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Kildare County Council could legally have held debate on 8th Amendment, Mayor admits

Kildare Mayor Martin Miley

Kildare County Council was not legally bound to keep neutral on a debate on the referendum, its mayor has said.

But Mayor, Martin Miley, said that he believed it was important for the Council to remain neutral and he would make the same decision again if he had to in the morning.

He was responding to questions following an initial story from Kildare County Council’s monthly meeting in April in the Leader over whether to allow a debate on the referendum.

Cllr Miley said they had three meetings with regard to the the referendum motion and a decision was taken by three people, himself, the Chief Executive and the chairperson of the Protocol committee, not to allow the motion or debate. When contacted by the Leader, Cllr Miley said that he spoke to legal personnel on a personal basis.

“I understand that Kildare County Council itself, did not seek formal legal advice itself as a body,” he said.

Cllr Miley said the Council as a body should be neutral is in such issues as the recent referendum vote.

“Kildare County Council is a bigger body than any of us individually,” he said. “It is important is issues like this that it remains neutral,” he said. “I sought legal advice to see if we were legally bound to keep Kildare County Council neutral.

“As Mayor, I felt it would be unfair to take a position. Sean O’Fearhail (the Kildare South TD) did not take a position as the Ceann Comhairle in the Referendum for the 8th.”

Cllr Miley said he represented all of the people in the Council. He also told the Leader that he did not get his personal legal advice in writing but was happy with his decision.

“I would do the same in the morning,” he said.

The issue arose after a motion from Cllr Reada Cronin at the May 28 meeting to delete a paragraph on the Council’s Standing Order allowing the Mayor, the Chairman of the Protocol Committee and the Chief Executive to decide on the listing of potentially controversial items on the agenda.

In a reply to the motion, Maura McIvor, Senior Executive Officer, Corporate Services said: “Proposed amendments to Standing Orders should firstly be considered by the Protocol Committee and a report brought back to full Council.”

Cllr Cronin said if there was respect for democracy, that paragraph should not be there. She agreed the matter is to go back to the Protocol Committee for further consideration.