FG stand-off leaves council seat empty for three months
A stand-off over voting rights has resulted in Fine Gael leaving a council seat empty for more than three months.
The election of Maria Byrne to the Seanad in April resulted in a vacancy on Limerick County Council - but a row has developed between supporters of her cousin Elenora Hogan and another candidate, Fergus Kilcoyne, over who can vote for her replacement. Ms Byrne was the Lord Mayor of Limerick from 2010 to 2011 and represented the City West constituency on the local council.
The Irish Independent understands the dispute centres around whether members of the party who no longer live in the area are still entitled to vote.
It is believed that if people who no longer live in the City West area can vote, then Ms Hogan will win - but if not, the balance would tip in favour of Mr Kilcoyne.
As no resolution could be found locally, the issue has now been referred to the party's General Secretary, Tom Curran.
Ms Byrne said: "Dublin is handling [it] now. They have put it off until early autumn."
A party spokesperson said: "This is an internal Fine Gael matter, which is being worked on. A selection convention will be held in due course."
However, it could be September or October before a convention is finally held.
A source said that, under the existing Fine Gael rules, all members of a branch are entitled to vote, regardless of where they currently live.
There are three branches in the City West election area, with claims that one in particular has an abnormally high level of non-resident members.