A real grandfather clause for two councillors entering pact
THEIR grandfathers fought against each other in the Civil War. But now Fianna Fail's Thomas McEllistrim and Fine Gael's Pat O'Connor-Scarteen will sit beside each other as councillors on Kerry County Council.
Both men's grandfathers, Tom McEllistrim and Pat O'Connor-Scarteen, had been comrades during the War of Independence but fought on opposing sides in the Civil War.
Mr O'Connor-Scarteen's grand-uncles, John and Tom, had fought alongside Tom McEllistrim at the Headford Ambush but were shot by anti-treaty forces at their home in Kenmare in September 1922. John was 20 and Tom was 22.
Their grand-nephew said there had never been any animosity between the McEllistrim and O'Connor-Scarteen families and Tom McEllistrim had called to the house to sympathise with his great-grandmother after his uncles were shot.
He said he doubted his grandfather would be "turning in his grave" at the new pact which saw Fianna Fail and Fine Gael agree on the division of votes for the two top positions on the council.
"It's a historic day but the numbers dictated the two main parties had to come together for the first time," Mr O'Connor-Scarteen said.
"It's a unique experience for us all but we have to be realistic and move forward."
Yesterday, Fianna Fail's John Brassil was elected Cathaoirleach, while former TD Mr McEllistrim was elected the leas-cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council – the new title for the deputy mayor.
The first meeting of the 33-seat council took place against the backdrop of a legal action by a candidate who failed to be elected. Former Fianna Fail senator Dan Kiely's case is listed to be heard at Tralee Circuit Court next week.