INDEPENDENT Letterkenny Cllr Dessie Shiels walked of yesterday’s Letterkenny Municipal District meeting saying he was not “comfortable sitting here”.
In a later statement Cllr Shiels said his departure was triggered by the presence of Cllr John O’Donnell at the meeting.
Cllr Shiels departure came immediately after the discussion about alleged offers of money to councillors made in social media relating to the Aghadachor leisure resort.
“I am withdrawing my motions two, three and four as I am not comfortable sitting here today. I will correspond- directly with management,” Cllr Shiels said and left the meeting room in the public services centre.
In a statement issued afterwards he said he was left with no alternative other than to leave the meeting having arrived at it to find that Councillor John O’Donnell was in attendance.
Cllr Shiels pointed out that this was the first ordinary meeting since the airing of the RTE Investigates Programme on county councillors in November past.
“In the aftermath of the RTE investigates programme which aired on RTE in November past, I personally cannot involve myself in County Council meetings, whether at Municipal District Level or at full Plenary Council level in the presence of Councillor O’Donnell. To do so would, to my mind, compromise everything that I have tried to do to date since being elected to Donegal County Council to restore public confidence in politics in Donegal.
“Since the airing of the RTE Investigates programme, there has been widespread disbelief in Donegal that there is no statutory mechanism to even suspend Councillor O’Donnell or anyone else when these type of issues arise. Going beyond that, the electorate cannot have any say in the matter until a future election is held for the County Council which not planned until 2019.
“I won’t allow Cllr O’Donnell to make those kind of statements which are damaging to my good name and others and not take a principled stand on the matter. Having witnessed the RTE Investigates Programme, I cannot do business or associate in a Council chamber with Cllr O’Donnell, it’s a simple as that,” Cllr Shiels said.
He added that the abject failure of successive national governments not to properly legislate to provide for situations where these issues arise has failed Local Government and the electorate.
“The next full plenary meeting of Donegal County Council is scheduled for the end of this month and I shall also be removing myself from that meeting as necessary,” he concluded.