Wednesday 22 October 2014

Fahy bids to save council seat from prison cell

Published 10/09/2007 | 00:00

THE country's only jailed councillor is making an attempt to hold on to his Council seat -- from his cell.

Galway County Councillor, Michael 'Stroke' Fahy, is serving a 12-month sentence, handed down by Galway Circuit Criminal Court, after a jury found him guilty of seven charges, including misappropriating local authority funds, attempted theft and false accounting.

As well as the jail term, Cllr Fahy was also fined €75,000. Currently in Castlerea Prison, he is due to be released in January.

The 56-year-old councillor -- the longest serving representative on Galway County Council -- resigned from Fianna Fail when the local authority called in gardai over extensive fencing on his land, completed under a local authority improvement scheme.

Tomorrow, Galway County councillors will debate a 'request' by Cllr Fahy, pursuant to Section 18 of the Local Government Act of 2001. The item is one of just two matters to be discussed at a special meeting meeting in County Hall. The other item is the contentious closure of the Shannon-Heathrow service.

It is understood that the request is a bid by Cllr Fahy to ensure he will not be removed from his seat, as a result of failing to attend council meetings over an extended period.

Cllr Fahy started his prison sentence on April 23 last but, under current legislation, a councillor may be deemed to have resigned his seat if absent from meetings of the authority for a continuous period of six months. He last attended a meeting on February 26 last.

But there is provision within the Local Government Act for the local authority to take into account a councillor's illness or failure to attend "in good faith for another reason".

The motion, which, it is understood, will be proposed on his behalf by another councillor, will seek to garner the support of other councillors under this provision.

Cllr Fahy has lodged an appeal, but that may not be heard until next year.Current Justice Minister Brian Lenihan and his predecessor, Michael McDowell have both been extensively lobbied to intervene in the case.

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