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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 19 September 2020

Cork City Council meeting abandoned after property tax protests

Lord Mayor John Buttimer said the council’s fortnightly meeting could not continue given the “barracking” of protestors.

(YouTube: houlies)

CORK CITY COUNCIL’S fortnightly meeting this evening was abandoned after protestors stormed the council chamber demonstrating their opposition to the property tax.

Proceedings were disrupted for some time as demonstrators chanted slogans against the tax, which is due to come into effect in July.

Protestors chanted, “No way, we won’t pay,” and “Labour out”. A banner reading ‘Axe the tax, or watch your vote collapse’ was also unfurled from a balcony.

Gardaí were called into the chamber in effort to restore calm to proceedings, but disruptions continued, leading Lord Mayor John Buttimer (Fine Gael) to adjourn the meeting.

The council is controlled by Fine Gael and Labour, who are usually supported by Fianna Fáil – though the latter party voted against the council’s Budget for 2013. Of the 31 members, ten come from either Sinn Féin, the Socialist Party, the Workers’ Party or are left-leaning independents.

Buttimer told TheJournal.ie that he had no option to abandon the meeting because of “constant shouting and barracking, abuse, catcalling and chanting”, and the “non-willingness” of protestors allow the council to continue.

He added that while he did not question the demonstrators’ right to protest and to make their voices heard, it was unfortunate that the council’s business could not be dealt with – as there were important local and national matters still to discuss.

“People have a legitimate right to protest and to make their concerns known, but other people also have rights as well. We’re a democratic elected representative council in the city,” Buttimer said.

He added that it was particularly unfortunate that the interruptions came as councillors discussed a council initiative to promote The Gathering and Rebel Week, a Cork-themed event due in October, which could have stimulated the economy and lessened the need for property taxes.

Whips from the various groups would have to meet as soon as possible to fix a time for the council to reconvene and complete its agenda, he added, joking that it was “heartening to see that people see the relevance of Cork City Council as a point of protest”.

A meeting cannot take place for at least five days, as that is the minimum notice period that councillors must be given of any meeting.

This evening’s interruptions are not the first at the council: a meeting was disrupted in October by opponents of repayments to bank bondholders.

Buttimer said the demonstrators were mostly not from the city itself, but from Cóbh, Ballyhea and other areas of the county and beyond.

Previously: Unrest breaks out at Cork City Council meeting

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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