Minutes count for Navan councillor as referendum nod gets included in council record

A MEATH county councillor has expressed relief that her expression of congratulations to those who voted ‘No No’ in the recent Family and Care Referendum will be recorded in the minutes of the recent Navan Municipal District meeting.

Cllr Emer Tóibín had previously voiced her incredulity that Meath Co Council had said it might not be possible to record it, saying she found this to be most unorthodox and unprecedented.

At the March meeting of Navan Municipal Council, when Cllr Toibin said she wanted to congratulate the people of Meath on the vote, she was told the council had to get advice on whether this could be recorded and included in the minutes of the meeting.

“As is normal practice after any significant referendum, it is usual for a councillor to express his or her thoughts and offer congratulations if he or she wants to. When I was told that my comments could not be acknowledged and recorded, I was too surprised to react at the time and there was general disbelief in the room. There was even some laughter.

“But then when I realised that the meeting’s administrator was serious, I queried it. I was told advice was needed and the matter was closed until such time as that advice was procured.

“Rather than let it slide, I quickly moved on to acknowledge all the voters 'in the interest of balance' to satisfy the council's bizarre condition of fairness. I have never experienced a situation like this”.

Cllr Tóibín said she was determined not to let the issue lie on a point of principle and in the interests of democracy.

“I had to send three emails over three working days before I finally received confirmation that my expression of congratulations would indeed be recorded.

“However, I received no explanation whatsoever as to why my comments were deemed inadmissible, at the time”.

“This whole issue has disturbed me, I find it quite unbelievable that there should even be a hint of a problem with an elected public representative offering her thoughts on something as public and as clear cut as a referendum defeat at a local government level meeting”.