Let’s hope the education convener isn’t in charge of teaching children manners

Councillors Karen Conaghan, Martin Rooney and John Mooney.


BILL HEANEYThe arrogance of West Dunbartonshire’s Depute Provost Karen Conaghan is breath-taking.

I have watched her and some of her SNP colleagues giggle their way through council meetings, where her party’s austerity policies have been implemented with a heavy hand.

And to utter under her breath supposedly why The Dumbarton Democrat’s representative should be allowed into the council chambers to cover meetings.

But her self-important superciliousness, which involved switching off the microphones of two senior Labour councillors and preventing them from asking perfectly legitimate questions about a delayed report on the future of West Dunbartonshire schools, is intolerable.

The SNP claim to be a democratic party, but their actions in the council chambers do not support their arguments.

And to add to the irony and injustice, the educational services committee chairwoman ,Councillor Karen Conaghan, read a prepared speech and cut off a Labour councillor’s microphone as she appealed for them to work together.

This leads me to ask two questions: Is there anyone in the SNP who can make a speech on anything important without having to read their contribution off notes?

And has the education committee chairwoman any role in teaching manners to the pupils and students in local schools?

According to an excellent report by Tristan Stewart-Robertson, one of the journalists who is actually allowed into West Dunbartonshire Council meetings, Mrs Conaghan also insisted the schools were safe and the estates report would be brought to the committee when it was ready – and not before.

November’s Council meeting had heard that the long-awaited schools’ estate management plan would not be submitted to last week’s education group.

As councillors were asked to approve the minutes from the last committee meeting in September, both councillors Martin Rooney from Vale of Leven and John Mooney from Clydebank tried to raise the issue of the report.

Cllr Conaghan said: “Obviously we’d like to do something sooner rather than later, but we also need to take the time to get things right.

“All of us here in this committee are very aware of the financial constraints we operate under.

“Therefore, it’s all the more important, in terms of best value but getting it right for every child, to explore all potential funding streams and to make the most of what’s available.”

In a comment related to concerns raised by parents at Edinbarnet Primary, but not at the education committee, Cllr Conaghan continued: “I will also say, just because some of our buildings are older doesn’t mean that they are unsuitable, it doesn’t mean that any building is unsafe. That was clearly stated at last Wednesday’s council meeting.

“We do not send our children and young people into buildings that we know to be unsafe, nor would we do that with any of our employees.

“Teachers and others staff working in education and other supporting disciplines are used to being imaginative in their approaches and making the best uses of the buildings and resources that we currently do have.

“I would also remind you, Cllr Rooney, in November 2017 if I’m correct, at the council’s annual review, I said something I absolutely believe to be true: the best work that this council does is done by consensus and cross-party working.

“Let us all remember we are elected to represent people in West Dunbartonshire as best we can. In my opinion we do this best when we set party politics to the side.

“This education committee is the best example – a committee of elected members of almost all parties, teachers, parents and church reps working together for the best for the citizens and most importantly for the young people of West Dunbartonshire.”

It may not have been legitimate to discuss a report that had not been released but it was perfectly legitimate to ask questions in relation to Cllr Conaghan’s statement at the committee.

Cllr Rooney tried to point out he hadn’t raised party politics but Cllr Conaghan cut off his microphone and said: “I said no.”

After his mic was turned off, Cllr Mooney, said: “Don’t turn off my microphone – that’s rude. I don’t agree with your ruling. It should be on the agenda that this report has not been brought. I don’t know where you get off saying it was party political when it wasn’t.”

Cllr Conaghan fired back: “I didn’t say it was party political. I said the best work that we do is when we leave party politics to the side.”

She then cut off Cllr Mooney’s microphone again and the meeting continued.

So, there we have it. The SNP will brook no questioning of their policies or decisions, and certainly not by representatives of the public or members of the press.

It doesn’t half make you wonder what Scotland would be like if we were ever to become independent under the SNP.


  1. I don’t think the actions of one cllr Karen Connaghan in a committee on education in one of Scotland’s smallest local authorities can be cause to make one wonder what an independent Scotland under the SNP would be like.

    It’s not exactly a rational extrapolation when a clllr of another party gets ” dissed” and then a local blog extrapolates it to question a whole national movement.

    Although from an editorial perspective the Dumbarton Democrat may have differences with the local SNP councilors in preference to the Labour ones, it has to be recognised that the SNP are hugely popular with the electorate. Forty Eight Westminster seats compared to one for Labour seems to ever so slightly suggest that.

    In fact in the WDC area the Westminster SNP candidate greatly increased his majority against labour

    The intellectual rigour of an assessment of a national movement based upon one or two uppity local councilors getting the better of the opposition is therefore a questionable one.

    Goodness with form like this you’ll be saying Karen Connaghan’s bossiness has put you off independence and that we’d be better with Boris.

  2. i believe your democratic right to be heard, Willie, disappears with your refusal to identify yourself, but I wouldn’t be so mean as to cut you off. Her decision to cut off the councillors’ microphones and deny them the right I have given you is remarkable, if not despicable in a 20th century democracy. If you choose to take your news and comment from the Murdoch press, multi-nationals and their local papers which are being staved of investment then do so. That’s your democratic right in a democratic country. I think most people will consider you to be a chancer.

  3. Oh c’mon Bill, don’t be so petulant.

    We’re talking about a local councillor in committee cutting short two allegedly senior Labour councillors with that then constituting an end of democracy as we know it. Moreover based upon this alleged outrage you are now questioning a whole national movement.

    I don’t know about you but quite honestly I think councillors Rooney and Mooney are more than able to stand on their own two feet and really don’t need your good self to cry the end of democracy on their behalf.

    Yes Cllr Conaghan may be uppity and may on occasion a match for Cllrs Rooney and Mooney,, but she is but one councillor in a small authority. And if that’s bossiness that’s tough. I’m sure Mooney and Rooney won’t be breaking their hearts – and you do them a disservice if you make out that they do.

    Labour lost control of the Council. They lost control of the Scottish Parliament and they have one out of fifty nine Scottish Westminster MPs. That may be the end of democracy as yourself and Labour see it. But the electorate see it differently and if Labour were popular then they wouldn’t be in the mess that they are in. Truly they are headed for obscurity. Electoral recovery is not on the horizon, and the electorate by their votes just do not trust them.

    So give it up please with the name calling. I don’t call you a chancer nor refer to you as something that crawled from under a stone. Your language is that of a petulant child with a busted ego unable to respond in a mature manner. You are however as I have said before better than that – or should be.

    All administrations need criticism from time to time and fair criticism is very much needed. But to say that because councillors Mooney and Rooney were cut short, the end of the democratic world has come, is just plain wrong.

    Conservative rule over Scotland is wrong and it’s time we focussed on that. Scotland did not vote for it, nor did they vote to be dragged out of Europe. Let us all find common cause in that and I think we could all find ourselves in a much better place.

  4. Aye and while I’m at it Bill we live in a 21st century democracy and not a 20th century democracy.

    Now I say this not to be nit picking or living in the past but say so because it was not always the case that in the 20th century that politicians had rage assistance of electronic amplification. That said, the new megaphone is now the internet on which we can all bugle now – and do.

    And if we can keep the fake news, the fake outrage, the fake angst out of what goes out on the internet that I believe we can improve the democratic process. Good information, informed and fair comment, objectivity is what we require. We don’t get it from the MSM because that as you have I believe correctly opined before, has been hijacked by the establishment.

    But to conclude, the Dumbarton Democrat is your baby. You put effort into making it happen. That is more than a lot of other people do. It takes effort. So keep at it, and if you get chancing under-stone dwellers in dungarees like myself making comment, don’t take the huff . Rather please feel free to respond constructively, as you are more than capable of. Readers will enjoy the debate, and will come back for more. None of us have a monopoly on political opinion – not even that big bad deputy provost who started this discussion.

    Kind Regards !

  5. Thanks Willie. Sorry about getting the number wrong when it came to centuries. I must have been thinking of the one where too many in the world of politics are still living. I am delighted to hear you are up for a debate, but I would prefer it if you cast off your cloak of anonymity. I hope you had a happy Christmas and that the bile didn’t seep into your Bollinger.

  6. It is obvious what your political agenda is! An article written to fit the authors personal political bias is of little worth.

    1. Julia my only agenda is to be democratic. To allow free speech and comment. The SNP in Dumbarton deny me that. |They have boycotted and banned The Democrat. I have however given them acres of space since, especially to the First Minister’s answers at FMQs. I do not know who resurrected this particular post, but I think it may have been one of those people competing against her for the prospective candidacy in the Dumbarton constituency. If you read what has been posted in The Democrat, including that letter from Graeme McCormick, you might well come to the same conclusion. What I thought when the initial post was published may be quite different from what I think now. Even journalists are allowed to change their mind from time to time, just like the SNP who have become U-turn specialists in recent times. What is going on in the SNP at Salmond inquiry and in Dumbarton is a shambles which merits public attention being drawn to it. Some of its members are ignorant and nasty with it even to the extent of using a pack of lies in a smear campaign against me. What a parcel of rogues in a party.

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