At their March monthly meeting, Dublin City Councillors voted against a motion to co-opt Geraldine Molloy, a former staff member of Inner City Helping Homeless, to fill the council seat vacated by the death of independent Councillor Anthony Flynn.
The Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) charity was wound up last year following multiple allegations of sexual assault against Anthony Flynn, the founder and CEO, and his death in August 2021.
According to the council’s rules, known as standing orders, an independent councillor should nominate someone who would step in as their replacement, but Flynn hadn’t named anyone.
“In the event that no nomination has been made or the nominee pre-deceases the Councillor, then the filling of the vacancy shall fall to the full Council,” say standing orders.
Local independent councillors proposed Molloy, and most independent councillors – alongside Sinn Féin councillors and some Labour Party councillors – backed her co-option. The vote had already been deferred twice.
Independent Councillor Christy Burke appealed for councillors to back Molloy, who he said had worked in the community and voluntary sector for many years, and her work had been commended by the president.
She is “a woman who is full of dignity, integrity and commitment” who wants to contribute to society, he said.
“I don’t have yet the names of the political assassins who are outside this chamber and are creating fake information about a decent hard-working woman,” said Burke.
Independent Councillor Cieran Perry said that Molloy is a voluntary worker specialising in supporting homeless people as a mental-health worker, and the council needs her expertise.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that councillors are willing to deny a working-class woman the opportunity to have her voice and that of her community heard,” he said.
Green Party Councillor Janet Horner said that the north inner-city needs to be fully represented but that her party couldn’t back the nomination because of concerns about ICHH.
“We are conscious that there is a criminal investigation ongoing into ICHH activities,” she said. “Our greatest responsibility as people and as representatives for the city is to the most vulnerable.”
“We can’t risk compounding any hurt that may have happened or any injustice that may have been done,” said Horner.
Independent Councillor John Lyons said he would vote against the nomination because his primary concern was for the four alleged victims of serious sexual assault. “I believe the victims,” he said.
Independent Councillor Damien O’Farrell said he supports victims and believes those who say they were abused. But that there had been a “slur campaign” against Molloy that amounted to “character assassination”.
Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said the nomination was “an absolute insult to the many victims who are out there who are trying to make their way forward”.
The council should wait until the investigation into ICHH is concluded, he said. So too said Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Heney, so the Fianna Fáil group wouldn’t support the nomination either, she said.
The Fine Gael group abstained from the vote, as did People Before Profit’s Tina MacVeigh and some Labour councillors.
Fine Gael Councillor Danny Byrne said he didn’t feel comfortable that councillors were being asked to act as judge and jury while a criminal investigation was ongoing.
Independent councillors Cieran Perry, Noeleen Reilly, Nial Ring and Christy Burke walked out of the meeting after the vote.
The Lord Mayor, Labour Councillor Alison Gilliland, said that the St Patrick’s Day parade will be led by a section symbolising Ukraine.
“The Patricks Day Festival is organising a special Ukrainian-themed part of the parade, that will actually lead the parade in front of the Lord Mayor’s carriage,” she said.
“It will be the first thing people will see and will be respectfully and appropriately coloured,” she said.
Every second flag along the route will also be the Ukrainian flag, she said. “So it will be very obvious that our St Patrick’s Day Parade will be in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Councillors agreed to two emergency motions in solidarity with Ukraine.
A cross-party motion condemned the invasion of Ukraine and called on the government to ensure that the International Financial Services Centre is not used by Russian state-controlled companies to evade sanctions.
Another motion, tabled by Fine Gael, also condemned the invasion and called on the council to twin Dublin city with Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and to fly the Ukrainian flag over the Mansion House and City Hall.
Improving Street Signs
Councillors agreed that the council should audit its street signs and clean, fix or replace those that need it.
“My experience is that a lot of them are not readable,” said Fine Gael Councillor Danny Byrne, who proposed the motion on behalf of the South East Area Committee.
“That this area council resolves to initiate a programme of replacing street signs, many of which are faded and unreadable,” says the motion.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Heney said she supported the motion but didn’t know if it was possible to get the signs changed. She has been trying to get just two signs changed in her local area for at least two years, to no avail, she said.
One local resident is “traumatised by the mis-spelling” on a local sign, she said. Each time she tells that person that it will be sorted and then it isn’t that compounds their trauma, she said.
Fine Gael Councillor Paddy McCartain said that the council needs to take a more proactive approach and set aside a fund for replacing signage when needed.
Social Democrats Councillor Tara Deacy said that even a good scrub would help a lot of the signs.
Sinn Féin Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha said that some signs in Irish are poor quality, and others are just wrong. “There doesn’t seem to be a final proofing process.”
Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey said that on the road where he grew up there were signs on either end but with two different Irish translations of the street name.