Saturday 20 July 2019

Calls for change in law as Power takes seat

Kevin Callan with Declan Power
Kevin Callan with Declan Power

Francis Carroll

There have been calls for a change in the law which on Monday allowed Declan Power to be co-opted onto Louth County Council.

One councillor declared the process 'a farce'.

At last month's Local Elections outgoing Independent councillor Kevin Callan was elected in both the Drogheda Urban and Drogheda Rural areas.

Following his decision to choose to take the Drogheda Urban seat, Mr Callan nominated the Clogherhead man to fill the vacant seat in Drogheda Rural.

Mr Power stood for Fianna Fáil in the election when he received 259 first preference votes in Drogheda Rural before being eliminated.

At Monday's June meeting of the local authority, Mr Callan formally nominated Declan Power, and got a seconder in Cllr Jim Tenanty.

Cllr Hugh Conlon (IND) proposed Frank Godfrey who, like Cllr Callan, stood in both areas but failed to get elected in either.

As there was no seconder or any other counter proposals, council chairman Cllr Liam Reilly deemed Mr Power elected.

Cllr Tom Cunningham (SF) noted 'the good folk of Drogheda Rural elected Kevin Callan'.

'He (Callan) said he would pick an Independent but has chosen someone from a political party.'

Cllr Cunningham continued Declan Power's signature 'was not dry on the Fianna Fáil registration form' when he had to withdraw from the party in order to take up this position.

'One of the (ballot) boxes in Drogheda Rural showed a turn-out of 20.7%. This farce will not help increase that (turn-out)'

Labour councillor Michelle Hall believed the process was unfair on the electorate, adding she would like to see the law changed.

Cllr Conlon remarked it was regrettable the seat was 'handed to a former Fianna Fáíl member.' It should have gone to an Independent.

'I don't agree with candidates standing in two electoral areas,' said Cllr Paddy McQuillan (IND).

He too felt the law needed to be addressed. It was unfair on the electorate as it stood.

However, Cllr Callan responded that the law said he could do it (nominate Declan Power).

He accepted some members were not happy. He felt it would not have been suitable to appoint a friend or family member.

There was nonetheless a general welcome for the new councillor who brings Louth County Council to its full strength of 29 members.

Chief executive Joan Martin assured him of her co-operation.

Drogheda Independent