Council to hold remote and hybrid meetings

By Maurice Garvey

MONTHLY council meetings are to be implemented on a hybrid basis – meaning councillors can participate in person or remotely.

Since May, monthly council meetings in South Dublin County Council have taken place at the National Basketball Arena and in more recent months at Tallaght Stadium to accommodate physical distancing guidelines.

SDCC Council Meeting at the National Basketball Arena 12 of 21 Photo Ben Ryan 1

A monthly council meeting was held in the Basketball Arena

Area committee meetings for Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan etc, have all taken place remotely since Covid on Microsoft Teams.

Monthly meetings usually contain 40 councillors, council staff and security, hence the democratic need for attendance, but Covid-19 and a recent sharp increase in cases, has led to further changes.

In October, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien ratified a new order under the Civil Law and Criminal Law Act which allows the option for local authorities to hold remote meetings using online platforms.

Thus, the council will host it’s monthly meeting on Monday (January 11) at Tallaght Stadium in a hybrid fashion.

Cllr Vicki Casserly (FG) believes it is the “right decision in the current climate” given the “massive increase in numbers”.

“Minister Helen McEntee revealed this morning she has it. No matter how safe you think you are, everyone is at risk. We all need to do our part,” said Cllr Casserly.

“When I was Mayor last year, during the first lockdown, I suspended all meetings in line with public health advice. I’d have reservations going to a meeting with 40 councillors given how rampant it is now. I’m immunocompromised and my son is immunocompromised. We should all be heeding health advice and not put anyone at risk. We can still do our duties.”

A council spokesperson said: “South Dublin County Council has drafted the necessary procedures to assist with remote and hybrid meetings (in that a physical meeting will take place, but some members can participate remotely) and will implement the new procedures immediately. This new procedure has been agreed for the January 11 council meeting.”

Webcasting is due to be implemented at council meetings when they return to HQ but Cllr Casserly said residents can check the minutes online.

“They can also contact us and ask questions, that is what councillors are there for,” she said.

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