Cllr in tears at online abuse over Piper’s

May 1st, 2023 9:30 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

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A COUNCILLOR broke down in tears at a meeting in Bandon on Tuesday, saying she has received serious online abuse over the stalemate between the Council and Piper’s Funfair in Kinsale.

Cork County Council is seeking to impose a €30,000 bond on the much-loved funfair, before it will allow it to set up in the newly-resurfaced Pier Road carpark in the town.

Chair of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District, Cllr Marie O’Sullivan (FG), told councillors at a meeting this week that her integrity as both a councillor and a businesswoman had been called into question by ‘keyboard warriors’.

‘It’s been a horrible couple of weeks for me and the other councillors and we’ve all had a hounding about this issue,’ said a very upset Cllr O’Sullivan.

‘I want to remind people on social media that we have children and grandchildren and it’s not very nice for them to read these things about us. I would remind people to be prudent on their keyboards.’

Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) sought a suspension of standing orders at the meeting to ‘put the record straight’ about the Piper’s issue. He expressed anger that one of his colleagues was branded a ‘liar’ at a recent protest in the town.

He pointed out that all the councillors have backed the Piper family from day one and that he was asked to intervene last year in the dispute over the Showman’s Wagon.

‘I’m really cross that a TD, Michael Collins, walked into Kinsale that Sunday and said we, the six councillors in this municipal district, should do more. We have always supported the idea of keeping the funfair in Kinsale and we did everything we could,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, who added none of the councillors were contacted about the protest.

‘To say I’m furious is an understatement. We have done our utmost to solve this issue and what was done was disgraceful.’

But this week Deputy Michael Collins told The Southern Star that he makes no apology for what he said at the protest and said the six councillors need to sit down with Brendan Piper and thrash out a solution which they can then present to the executive. He said that if councillors can’t intervene, then he is willing to do so.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said the six councillors were ‘being hung out to dry’. 

‘We are being made scapegoats and that’s unfair. We need to be exonerated,’ said Cllr Murphy.

Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said the public discourse at the recent protest ‘descended to a new low’ and he was subjected to abuse that he had never seen dished out before to anyone. ‘It is a low and I’m not even annoyed, I’m disgusted,’ said Cllr Coleman, who added that they want to keep Piper’s in Kinsale, but that it’s now in the hands of the Council.

‘All six members have been treated badly, despite all efforts to support the Piper family,’ he added.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said the narrative of ‘Ban the Bond’ is dangerous and they need to be careful and prudent in the management of their assets.

Senior Council official Mac Dara O h-Icí said that this is a straightforward licence agreement between Cork County Council and the funfair and a reduced figure of €30,000 was based on a conversation between them.

‘The figure is calculated based on the costs of re-surfacing the car park. The granting of a licence is an executive function of the Council and not elected members,’ he said.

Council officials met with Brendan Piper in recent weeks and agreed at his request to reduce the bond to €30,000, but he said he is unable to get this bond either.

Meanwhile,  a new single by The High Kings about Kinsale references the funfair. The band will take to the streets of Kinsale on Thursday to promote The Streets of Kinsale, which also features the vocals of the lead singer of American rock group Journey – Steve Perry.

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