Council finally agrees budget at 5 o’clock this morning

After 34 adjournments and 31 hours spanning over two days, Donegal County Council finally passed it's Budget this morning just after 5am.

Councillors were being asked to approve a budget that would see revised county council revenue expenditure dropping from €148 million in 2012 to €133 million in the coming year.

At one stage it looked extremely likely that Donegal County Council could fold, if the council couldnt't make a decision by midnight tonight then it could have been abolished. In this case a Commissioner would have been appointed by the Minister for the Environment and local councillors would no longer be in a job.

Fine Gael and Labour (backed by four independents), Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein (supported by independent Cllr. John Campbell) all brought forward proposals to make budget savings but they couldn't agree.

Eventually it went to a vote. Sinn Fein's proposals were beaten by 20 votes to five, while Fianna Fail's proposals were beaten by 16 votes to nine. Fine Gael's proposals were beaten 14 votes to 11.

This meant that nobody's proposals were passed.

Councillors were then back to square one, and in the exact same position they were in at 10am on December 19.

But finally at 310am some progress began to be made, as the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail whips finally met in private to discuss their differences.

By 4 o clock this morning both parties proposals were only 33k apart, and they eventually came to agreement just after 5am to pass the budget.

And the County Manager Seamus Neely then agreed that the broad content of both parties proposals could be accommodated.

Fianna Fail Party Whip Ciaran Brogan said his party were pleased with the budget which was eventually passed, but he said lessons must be learnt...

[podcast]http://www.highlandradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/brograw.mp3[/podcast]

And Fine Gael Party Whip Barry O Neill said his party where also very happy with the budget, and Cllr O Neill defended the lenght of the meeting, saying there was a very real chance that the council could have folded....

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