Saturday 25 March 2017

Unelected party activists to fill 55 vacant council seats

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

FIFTY-five council seats must be urgently filled by failed local election candidates and party activists as newly elected TDs prepare to bow out of local government.

The 55 replacements won't face a public vote until the local elections in 2014.

The Labour Party has set a deadline of today for "expressions of interest" from prospective candidates, while Fine Gael has informed local organisations to select their new councillors by March 18.

Following the ending of the dual mandate in 2004, TDs can no longer simultaneously hold council and Dail seats.

Once the parties reach agreement about the replacements, the new names will be rubber-stamped by the local city and county councils -- without anyone going before a public vote.

Fine Gael and Labour hold the majority of council seats countrywide in the aftermath of the 2009 local elections and have now succeeded in getting dozens of those councillors elected to the Dail.

Across Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail, People Before Profit, the Socialist Party and Independents, there are some 55 seats to be filled.

A total of 23 Fine Gael councillors won Dail seats and have to be replaced.

In many cases, the vacant seats will be handed to failed candidates from the 2009 council elections, or used to reward party activists who assisted sitting councillors in the general election. Those co-opted to the seats will have three years to copperfasten their positions before the 2014 local elections.

Each of the parties will be keen to ensure the replacements can retain the seats, particularly for Fine Gael and Labour, which could face a difficult 2014 local election if they go into government and implement a series of austere budgets.

In Dublin City Council, for example, there are nine seats to be filled by new members. In Fingal County Council, councillors like the Socialist Party's Clare Daly and Fine Gael's Alan Farrell will have to be replaced, as will Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown councillors such as People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett and Fine Gael's Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

In south Dublin, there are four vacancies, while there are five in Galway and six in Cork.

Irish Independent

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