Friday 26 December 2014

FG and FF abandon civil war politics to control mayoral jobs

Edel Kennedy

Published 07/06/2014 | 02:30

Thomas McEllistrim 
 FIANNA FAIL
Thomas McEllistrim FIANNA FAIL
Fine Gael Councillor Pat O’Connor-Scarteen.

FIANNA Fail and Fine Gael put aside their political differences to agree who will hold the top positions on councils around the country.

After months of mud slinging on the campaign trail, Civil War politics was put aside as councillors took up their seats at 31 new local authorities.

In many councils the two parties made voting pacts, with Fianna Fail taking many of the positions of Cathaoirleach and Leas Cathaoirleach – the new titles for mayor and deputy mayor.

And in some councils the pact ensured that Sinn Fein was kept from the mayoral job, with one councillor describing the move as "sleeveen".

On Louth County Council Sinn Fein holds a majority, with 10 out of the 29 seats.

However, Fine Gael councillor Oliver Tully – who was nominated by party colleague Colm Markey – secured the seat yesterday with 17 votes from Fine Gael (7 votes), Fianna Fail (5), Labour (2), the Greens (2) and one of the three Independents.

Sinn Fein had nominated Tomas Sharkey but he was only supported by his party colleagues. The Green's Marianne Butler was voted to the position of vice chairman.

The pact prompted the "sleeveen" comment from SF's Imelda Munster, adding that it was "a car park coalition".

There was similar criticism in Limerick where a coalition between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael ensured that FF's Kevin Sheahan was elected Cathaoirleach and his party colleague Joe Crowley as Leas Cathaoirleach.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting held in the University Concert Hall last night, they described the partnership with Fine Gael as a "new departure" for politics in Limerick.

"People were negative and said it couldn't be done but it has been done... We are putting politics aside in favour of what is right for the city and county," the leader of the Fianna Fail group Michael Collins said.

"Collectively we have a responsibility to make this city and county council work."

But newly elected Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Cian Prendiville hit out against the negotiations that took place in the past fortnight, claiming councillors were more concerned with who would have "nice offices and nice chains".

"The negotiations have not been about what they can do for the people who elected them but rather what they can do to serve themselves," he said.

Around the country, similar pacts were made.

* Galway County Council nominated a Fianna Fail Cathaoirleach, Mary Hoade, with Fine Gael's Niamh Byrne as Leas Cathaoirleach.

* Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have joined forces for the first time on Offaly County Council with FF's Sinead Dooley named as Cathaoirleach and her party colleague Frank Moran named as her deputy.

* Clare saw a power-sharing agreement between all parties with Fine Gael's John Crowe nominated to the top position

* Mayo named Fianna Fail's Damien Ryan as the new Cathaoirleach and Independent Richard Finn as deputy .

* Fine Gael's Michael Fitzgerald became the first mayor of Tipperary after the two councils – North and South – were amalgamated.

However, Ireland's largest local authority area – Cork County Council – saw a breakdown in negotiations between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein. Instead a new multi-party alliance agreed that veteran politician Alan Coleman (FF) serve as mayor for 2014/15 while independent Tim Collins (Ind) was elected as deputy.

Additional reporting by Ralph Riegel, Caroline Crawford, Elaine Keogh, Eoghan MacConnell and Kathryn Hayes

Irish Independent

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