2 January 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Cork City Council will this month debate a Green Party proposal to allow audio recordings of Council meetings. The proposal is to be discussed in the council’s Corporate Policy Group on Monday 6th of January, before it is expected to return to the full Council for decision on the 13th January.
Ahead of the debate, Green Party Councillor Oliver Moran has surveyed all 31 local authorities in Ireland to ask them for their policy on the matter.
A quarter of local authorities said they audio/video record or live stream council meetings. Three further councils (Carlow County Council, Meath County Council and Sligo County Council) are actively exploring options, with a view to introducing live steaming of meetings.
Dublin City Council and Roscommon County Council were among those that live stream meetings. Mayo County Council audio records council and local district meetings, whereas Waterford City and County Council is the only Munster-based authority that said it allowed audio recordings of council meetings by the media.
Both Kerry County Council and Cork City Council have the facilities to record and live steam meetings but only use these on special occasions. Cork City Council will live steam a special meeting of council on January 30th to mark the centenary of the first council elected by proportional representation and universal suffrage, as well as being the first council with a republican majority.
Cllr Moran said continuing the republican tradition means opening meetings of council to more people by allowing as many people as possible to hear debates:
“The Council Chamber has an excellent audio and microphone system. Recording meetings will allow debates to be re-broadcast on radio and on social media. There’s a belief among some members of Council that there’s nothing of interest to the general public that happens at council meetings. But at every meeting since I’ve been elected there have been important debates on issues from parking to fracking, from Bessborough House to Spring Lane. These are issues that matter to people, and it’s important that people are involved in these debates by hearing them.”
“There’s an irony that we record meetings like the centenary meeting but not the ones that deal with current issues. I don’t believe the men and women we will be commemorating would be satisfied with that. A republic means constantly reaching out and engaging people in the business of the city. A part of commemoration has to be continuing their tradition and moving it forward today.”