Mayor of Carrick-on-Suir Kieran Bourke has resigned from Fianna Fail and announced he is to run as an independent candidate in the county council election in May.
The councillor’s dramatic decision brings to an end 80 years of the Bourke family representing Fianna Fail on Carrick Town Council.
He said he had to leave Fianna Fail because the party’s leadership in Dublin denied him a “fair and democratic opportunity to seek a nomination” to run as a FF candidate in the Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District of the new amalgamated Tipperary Co. Council.
“Fianna Fáil despite its many faults had always been fair in allowing local democracy but under the current leadership local members were completely sidelined by a faceless and secret committee in Dublin.” he claimed.
Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan, who sits on both the Town and Co. Councils, was chosen as Carrick-on-Suir’s only Fianna Fail candidate to contest the Carrick Municipal District race at the party’s candidate selection convention in Cloneen on January 24.
Cllr Bourke said he hadn’t any problem with just one Carrick-on-Suir based FF candidate being selected to run. His problem was with the way the convention voting was set up.
He said the FF leadership promised each party member would have one vote at candidate conventions but at the Cloneen convention only the 19 members from the two Carrick FF cumainn could vote for the Carrick candidate. It wasn’t open to FF members from other parts of the municipal district to vote for the Carrick candidate. His cumann had just 6 members while the other candidate’s cumann had 13.
“The result was a guaranteed foregone conclusion in favour of another candidate and I refused to take part in a charade and so withdrew my candidacy.
“This was patently unfair and blatantly undemocratic and sends a clear message that the grassroots members are again being denied their voice and are being treated as mere sheep rather than the backbone of the entire party,” he added.
A Fianna Fail spokesman said Cllr Bourke’s decision was deeply disappointing. “The party decided there will be one FFF candidate in Carrick town. Over 100 conventions have been held throughout the country so far; with many of them being segmented on a district basis to ensure geographical balance.
“He, as a town councillor, was deemed to be a town candidate, as was fellow Clll Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan. It was decided to hold a vote among members in the town to decide the candidate. Unfortunately Cllr Bourke decided to withdraw his name before a vote could take place. Far from there being an undemocratic process, there was a clear understanding among candidates what procedures would be followed.”