independent

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Kelly's push for live streamed council meetings met with concern

Cllr Leonard Kelly
Cllr Leonard Kelly

Pádraig Byrne

Councillors and council officials seemed a little unsure if they are ready for the camera after Cllr Leonard Kelly brought a motion before them suggesting that County Council meetings be live streamed online.

Speaking on the motion, Cllr Kelly said: 'If the newspapers were not here, how would the public engage with or know about what is discussed in this chamber? In an age when democracy, or at least the perception of the democratic process is being undermined across the world, surely we can do our bit in Wexford to show transparency and encourage engagement with our local government.'

Cllr Kelly mentioned that around five councils around the country were currently engaged in this practice.

A number of members expressed concerns over the potential cost of live streaming meetings.

'There's a public gallery here and people can come in and observe meetings whenever they want,' Cllr John Hegarty said.

'They're not exactly beating the door down to get in here and watch.'

Meanwhile, Cllr Jim Moore said if it was adopted at county level, it would have to be rolled out to district meetings and this would carry considerable cost. He also mentioned that his own Rosslare District does not yet have a fixed home which would be another problem.

Director of Services Eddie Taaffe pointed out that the idea was not as simple as was being implied.

'There would be a cost involved,' he said.

'You'd have the equipment for starters and then it would have to be a delayed feed with a staff member employed to constantly watch and listen out for something potentially libellous to cut it off.'

'But this is a public forum,' Cllr Kelly protested.

'It doesn't matter,' Mr Taaffe said.

'There is no privilege here. Some local authorities have these feeds on time delays so they can terminate the feed when they see fit, but there are financial implications to this.

'As well there are issues such as you couldn't have two mics on at the same time. There are a lot of factors here. It's not just a case of yes we'll do it and put cameras in.'

Cllr Malcolm Byrne then piped up, somewhat tongue in cheek,

'I'm appalled that the director would think that someone here would lose the head and come out with something inappropriate!'

To conclude matters, Mr Taaffe said that he would look at what the protocol would be for something like this, as well as the costs involved.

Wexford People

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