Donegal County Council saw a number of acrimonious exchanges last evening, with the February meeting adjourned for over 40 minutes folowing clashes between Mayor Brendan Byrne and Sinn Fein Cllr Padriag Mac Lochlainn.
Earlier, at the reconvened January meeting, members narrowly voted against using council funds to pay for US trips on St Patricks Day. When the February meeting opened, both Mayor Brendan Byrne and Deputy Mayor Charlie Mc Conalogue addressed the meeting, telling members that they will will visit New York and Chicago next month at their own expense.
Mayor Byrne added he hopes that the mayor and deputy paying for their own trips will become the norm for the remainder of this councils lifetime.
However, the meeting soon descended into the realms of farce when Cllr Mac Lochlainn sought to respond and the mayor refused to allow him do so, saying that he had moved Mayor's Business forward, and no replies were allowed. Cllr Mac Lochlainn challenged his right to do so, accussing Cllr Byrne of presiding over the end of democracy and treating the council as his own fiefdom, a claim denied by the Mayor. Eventually, Cllr Byrne adjourned the meeting.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Charlie Mc Conalogue says Cllr Mac Lochlainn was seeking publicity, and the mayor was right to do so.
Speaking aftwerwards, Cllr Mac Lochlainn told Highland Radio he wanted to make it clear that the mayor has an expense fund of €43,000, and the payment for the New York trip can comes from that.