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Council seat blow for Boyd Barrett

NEW TD Richard Boyd Barrett suffered a blow last night after his replacement on the council was disqualified.

The People Before Profit TD had to give up his seat on Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council after he won a seat in the Dail.

His party selected Melisa Halpin as his replacement, and she was brought onto the council at its meeting last month.

But Dun Laoghaire county manager Owen Keegan found out that Ms Halpin was employed as an assistant staff officer with Dublin City Council. He wrote to councillors yesterday to tell them that this meant she was "ineligible" due to a provision which restricts local authority staff above a certain salary grade from serving on a local authority.

"The decision of the council at its March meeting to co-opt Ms Halpin as a member of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council was therefore null and void," he said.

Ms Halpin was affected by an order passed by former Environment Minister Martin Cullen in 2004. It stated that any local authority staff receiving a salary above that of a clerical officer could not serve as a councillor. Ms Halpin is on a higher salary scale -- that of assistant staff officer.

Mr Boyd Barrett said Ms Halpin had provided full details of her employment history to the council.