Political fireworks marked the very first meeting of the new Cashel-Tipperary municipal district council last Friday morning.
A clash between councillors who had agreed a mutual support pact on the council, and those who believe in the much lauded d’Hondt system to rotate the chair based on the order in which people were elected, rent the peace of the Tipperary town civic offices.
Accusations of ‘bully boy tactics’ and ‘grabbing power’ were traded across the table before the election of a chairman could even take place. When peace was restored it was Fine Gael’s John Crosse who became the first chairman of the Cashel-Tipperary municipal district. Fianna Fail’s Roger Kennedy is vice chair. Both men were elected unopposed.
There was, however, nearly a vote for chairman when Cllr Denis Leahy was proposed as chair by Cllr Martin Browne.
Cllr Browne said that he had no doubt Cllr Crosse was competent but people had voted for change. “We have an opportunity to get rid of the power bargaining that has gone on down through the years and listen to the people,” he said. He proposed all seven councillors work together under the d’Hondt system for the whole area, not just their own “little pockets” of support.
But Cllr Leahy withdrew his name, saying: “Nobody wants to put their name forward when you’re going to be beaten by the system.” He said he was worried about the urban areas if the four rural councillors agree a pact when the urban councillors, who represent the majority of the people, had no place at the table.
Cllr Ml Fitzgerald denied a pact had been agreed, with Cllr Mary Hanna Hourigan saying discussion had only taken place for year one. “It’s a new day, a new council, this is sad,” she said.
“You must think I came down in the last shower!” Cllr Leahy declared, “don’t take the rest of us as fools.”
Cllr Fitzgerald accused Cllr Leahy of using “bullyboy tactics” during the sustained row which both meeting administrator Marie McGivern and Cllr Crosse tried to calm.
However, the meeting ended on a conciliatory note when Cllr Leahy was the first to congratulate the new chairman. “This is where the rotten stuff goes on, it has to be got rid of before we can work as a united team,” he said.