Republican News · Thursday 13 July 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Sinn Féin secures Leitrim County Council chair

Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Colreavy, who was elected chair of Leitrim County Council last Friday, 7 July, envisages major changes on the council. ``I've two items on the agenda,'' he says. ``I want the community more involved in planning and development in the county, and I want to see more accountability by councillors in their dealings with the community.

``We in Sinn Féin, for example, held a public meeting recently in Manorhamilton, where I tried to bring the business of the council to the people, the matters which I had brought up on the council, resolutions, questions and the work of the new Strategic Policy Committees and so on. There were about 50 people there. I also gave a clear statement of my expenses. I looked for people's thoughts on what they would like to see the council doing. Councillors need to make themselves accountable in this way if we are going to represent the people here. I want to see this happening all over the county.

``People have not been consulted on major developments in Leitrim. I want a greater involvement of people in policy making. For example the holiday home development in Tullaghan, there was little consultation, which meant development which is not in character with the area. People ask of what benefit to Leitrim are subsidised holiday homes, dotted across the county? They might well ask.

``Recent changes in local government envisage council meetings which are structured so as to zone in on policy, rather than dwelling on clientelist issues which councillors should be bringing to the executive to settle, without endless time wasting in council meetings.

``I hope to see the developments envisaged in recent changes in local government implemented where we take reports back, discuss issues, and vote on policy, and resist playing a game of party pacts to keep general issues undiscussed, behind closed doors, in the hands of unelected council officials.

``Any councillor who sits on external committees, like the North Western Health Board, or the VEC, representing the council, is responsible to the council and should report back to us. Council meetings need to take seriously their role in county health or education, and make themselves accountable.''

``The structures are there for us councillors. Whether other party councillors are able to take the time to work them, to give the time to council business which it deserves, is another matter. I hope they can.''

On Monday evening, 10 July, inn another advance for the party in the 26 Counties, Sinn Féin's Charlie Boylan was elected vice-chair of Cavan County Council.

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