Statement from Representative, Niamh Guiry on lack of parity of esteem at Strategic Policy Committees in Cork City Council

Cork City Sectoral Representatives serving on Strategic Policy Committees continue to have patchy experiences with attempts to be treated equally to their committee colleagues.

Niamh Guiry, Cork City Public Participation Network’s representative on the Environmental, Water and Amenities Strategic Policy Committee had attempted to submit the following motion which was developed at the Climate Action, Environment and Natural Heritage Linkage Group

That Cork City Council adopts the EPA Green Procurement Guidelines as a guiding document for all public procurement within the remit of Cork City Council.

Unfortunately, the current standing orders of the Cork City Council do not support sectoral representatives on strategic policy committees to submit motions, or agenda points or be treated equally at committees. Her motion was rejected even though she had much support from her chair, Councillor Dan Boyle, and other fellow councillors on the strategic policy committee.

Niamh made the following statement at the May committee meeting:

The decision not to allow external members like myself to bring forward motions to this committee is a deeply disappointing and frustrating decision. I was elected to this SPC to influence policy alongside fellow committee members. I am volunteering my time to contribute and I have no desire for my presence here to be a ticking-the-box exercise or for it to be a tokenistic representation for environmental activists, young people, or whatever else. We all have shared values and concerns for the environment here in our local area in Cork and beyond, we should all be working together with respect and broad participation, not dividing or alienating members.

This is a decision that shows Cork City Council in a poor light. Public participation is not something that should be viewed in a negative light or as a threat to decision-making processes. Broad, robust, and consistent public participation is critical to environmental objectives and to creating enhanced ambitions to safeguard the well-being of our people and planet. This is not an issue that I’m going to let go of, nor should any of you, and that’s what I want to say on that for now.

Orla Burke
Orla Burke
Articles: 5