Councillors vote against broadcasting meetings

by Sylvia Pownall

SOUTH Dublin County Council remains the only local authority in the capital not to live-stream its meetings after members blocked the move last week.

Of the 40 councillors, just nine voted in favour of introducing webcasting at a meeting of the Organisation, Procedure and Finance (OPF) committee – with 15 against and 16 absent.
The service, offered by Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, allows proceedings to either be viewed live or played back via weblink.

Gogarty told The Gazette: “This is very disappointing. People have a right to know what their elected representatives are saying.”

The council said it could not give a breakdown of how members voted because the OPF meeting is closed to both public and media.

The Gazette understands that those in favour were Ind Cllrs Paul Gogarty, Francis Timmons, Guss O’Connell and Deirdre O’Donovan, as well as Dermot Looney (SD), Ronan McMahon (Renua), Madeleine Johansson (PBP), Enda Fanning (SF) and Martina Genockey (Lab).

The matter will not be referred back to a full council meeting, meaning live streaming is off the agenda for at least another 12 months.

Cllr Gogarty, who made the issue a priority of his term as Mayor, said voters were now getting a “very skewed view” of how some councillors conduct themselves at meetings.
He said: “Some people have a lot more resources than others to get their message out, especially the bigger parties. In some cases, they are reporting on things when they weren’t even at the meeting to start with.

“We’re now the only council in Dublin not doing it [live-streaming]. It is shameful.”
Cllr Madeleine Johansson (PBP) said: “The only way of finding out what happens at a council meet-ing is to physically attend, which can be difficult for many.

“With webcasting, we could reach more people, especially young people who are regular users of social media.”

Cllr Francis Timmons (Ind), who tabled a motion proposing the move, called for more transparency and accountability and said the decision was a bad one.
He added: “There is a lack of information for the public and I feel webcasting could have bridged this gap.”

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