Awkward... Fianna Fail's Mary Hanafin and Kate Feeney sit beside each other at first council meeting
FORMER education minister Mary Hanafin and her Fianna Fáil local election rival Kate Feeney were forced to sit side-by-side at the first meeting of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council today.
The council's annual meeting stipulated that all councillors must sit in alphabetical order.
However, both of the new councillors appeared to be in high spirits and exchanged pleasantries as they took their seats.
The pair were seen chatting quietly on a number of occasions throughout the meeting in the council chamber on Dun Laoghaire's Marine Road.
Ms Hanafin, the former education minister, and Ms Feeney, the Ogra Fianna Fail President, were involved in the infamous Battle of Blackrock where both won seats for Fianna Fail.
Fianna Fáil has officially decided not to be take any action against Mary Hanafin over her refusal to withdraw as a candidate in the local elections.
Councillors are obliged to sit in assigned seats for the first meeting because the deliberations are broadcast and names are matched to microphones.
At further meetings, the seating is rearranged in whatever way the parties want with the group leader usually sitting in the most prominent place alongside senior councillors.
Fianna Fail's rules and procedures committee met this week to discuss the issue around Ms Hanafin's defiance of the party hierarchy in refusing to pull out of the local elections.
A Fianna Fáil spokesman commented: "The Ard Chomhairle’s Rules and Procedures Committee met yesterday and considered the matter.
"While the committee was disappointed at the decision of Mary Hanafin to proceed to contest the election despite the expressed wishes of the party's candidate-ratifying process and procedures, they took all circumstances into account.
"As the voters in the Blackrock LEA elected both Councillors Kate Feeney and Mary Hanafin the Committee now considers the matter closed."