A former Mayor of Tramore has complained Town Manager Brian White to the Ombudsman for failing to respond to two letters he sent him over the last 18 months.
Other members of the Town Council, reacting to the shock announcement by Cllr Joe Conway at their October meeting on Tuesday night, jumped to the defence of the Manager, who had no recollection of the letters.
Cllr Conway said he wrote to the Manager 3 and 17 months ago and he had yet to receive even an acknowledgement. He had now passed on the letters to the Ombudsman with a request for an investigation as to why he got no response.
Mr. White, having been asked by Cllr Conway if there was a plausible explanation, was surprised to the extent that he thought the councillor was talking about emails. He said that if he had missed out on two enquiries over a period of 18 months he had no idea how it happened. There was no reason why he would not respond and he apologised if he got the letters and failed to do so. Generally, he tried to answer queries promptly.
Cllr Conway said the letters were of some importance and coming from an elected public representative they should not be ignored. It was in defence of local democracy he took the action he did – it was nothing personal against the Manager. “I want it to go down as a signal that I do not intend to be ignored”, he added.
Mr. White told Cllr Conway he never intentionally ignored requests or correspondence from any public representative and was very disappointed he felt he had to bring the matter to the attention of the Ombudsman before first notifying him. “It is a waste of the Ombudsman’s time and is discourteous to me, to say the least”, the Manager added, before asking to be furnished with copies of the letters.
Cllr Conway: “The point is that no queries should be ignored. It is an important point of democracy. If you are elected you deserve a hearing and a reaction and it is because of that I have asked the Ombudsman to have a look at the matter and report back to me”.
All of the other councillors present, bar Ann Marie Power, vehemently defended Mr. White, stating that in their experience he was always prompt, courteous and helpful in responding to any queries they had. Afterwards Cllr Power confirmed that she felt similarly and her failure
to comment at the meeting should not be interpreted otherwise.
The Manager thanked the councillors for their words of support and said he felt Cllr Conway should withdraw his request to the Ombudsman.
He added: “I have at all times endeavoured to carry out my duties diligently and to respond to councillors honestly and as quickly as possible. Furthermore, I have always encouraged my staff to do likewise and to bring matters to my attention where appropriate. If I failed to respond to Cllr Conway’s letters there was some inadvertent reason and I have apologised”.