Manager and Connor in angry clash

County Manager Mr. John Tiernan and Cllr. John Connor exchanged harsh words at the May meeting of Roscommon County Council last week.  Mr. Tiernan took exception to Cllr. Connor’s interruption of the Council’s Director of Services (Enterprise) Ms. Rita McNulty.    In turn, the former Fine Gael TD emphatically rebuffed the County Manager’s admonishment – and used his 21 years of experience of Oireachtas Éireann to dramatic effect in so doing.  Mr. Tiernan didn’t appreciate Cllr. Connor’s reaction to his comments, however, and onlookers were treated to an entertaining tussle between the two men.  When Mr. Tiernan called Cllr. Connor to order the Fine Gael representative told him that the County Manager as an official of the Council has ‘no right’ to rebuke an elected member. Mr. Connor said that censure of councillors is ‘a matter for the chairman’. Mayor Charlie Hopkins had not reprimanded the Frenchpark councillor. The episode began when Ms. McNulty was answering questions posed by members about Roscommon County Council’s public housing programme for 2007. Cllr. Connor interjected on a point of order and noted that Ms. McNulty had not addressed his question. Cllr. Connor had asked for the number of four-bedroom houses sought from the local authority in 2007. He asserts that Roscommon County Council does not cater sufficiently for larger families on the housing waiting list.   Mr. Tiernan (County Manager) criticised Cllr. Connor for interrupting the Director of Services while she was speaking. ‘The Director of Services should be allowed to answer without interruption,’ said Mr. Tiernan. ‘Under the standing orders of this Council I am answerable to nobody other than the chairman,’ said Cllr. Connor in response.  The County Manager responded by saying, ‘I recall Cllr. Connor saying at a previous meeting of this body that it’d be too bad if the council had to be run by standing orders.’   Cllr. Connor vehemently rejected this too and said that he ‘resented’ Mr. Tiernan’s input.  ‘I reject that absolutely. Under the standing orders and according to precedent the Chairman conducts meetings of the Council and I am answerable only to him. I resent the input of the County Manager in this matter,’ he said.