DCSIMG

Race on to be first chairman

Michael Fitzgerald is congratulated by Deputy Tom Hayes following his election to the new County Tipperary County Council at the election count centre in Thurles. Will Fine Gael's Fitzgerald be the first chairman of the new County Council?

Michael Fitzgerald is congratulated by Deputy Tom Hayes following his election to the new County Tipperary County Council at the election count centre in Thurles. Will Fine Gael's Fitzgerald be the first chairman of the new County Council?

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are expected to start talks with ‘like-minded’ independents to form a pact on the new Tipperary County Council to share the chairmanship and positions on key committees between them over the next five years.

With ten seats each, the two major parties are just short of a majority on the forty seat council.

One more vote would give them that majority - possibly with Labour’s Fiona Bonfield from the Nenagh area - but sources suggest that they may favour a more stable majority and opt to link-up with a number of independents.

That would ensure each party two terms in the chair with one for their new independent partners.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have formed pacts in South Tipperary in the past but some believe it may not be as easy in the new all-county council with a similar working arrangement not as common in North Tipp.

Both parties were due to meet this week to analyse the election results and plan startegy for the first meeting on Friday week, June 6.

With five seats, Sinn Fein are the next largest party - a hundred per cent return from their five candidates - but there’s unlikely to be any desire on their side or that of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to enter a sharing pact. With their new strength on the council, Sinn Fein are likely to be more comfortable as an opposition to the main parties.

However concluding a pact with any of the fourteen independents won’t be without difficulty as very little, if anything, links them, other than the three ‘Lowry’ councillors aligned to TD Michael Lowry, and the two members of ‘Team Mattie’ in Clonmel-Cahir, although that alliance with TD Mattie McGrath may be fractured already following the lack of vote management between poll-topper Martin Lonergan and running mate Richie Molloy who only came in without reaching the quota on the final count.

Other considerations could be those with past links to a party, such as Andy Moloney with Fianna Fail or Tom Wood with Fine Gael but like all other independents they will value that independence, believing that on ‘Independence Day’ it was that separation from party politics that got them elected.

Whatever the make up of any pact, a big prize will be the chairmanship on the first year of the historic new County Council.

The frontrunner on the Fine Gael side will be Golden councillor Michael Fitzgerald who received a huge personal vote in Cashel-Tipperary, topped the poll and was the first councillor elected to the new council.

Another contender is Fianna Fail’s Michael Smith, son of former Minister Minister Smith, who also topped the poll with a huge vote in Nenagh.

However he couldn’t compete with Fitzgerald’s considerable experience, something that could be vital on a council that covers an area stretching from the Waterford border in Carrick-on-Suir to the Galway border in north Tipp, and brings together councillors from the five new electoral areas for the first time.

However Smith may have laid down a marker for the next General Election with his big vote - a feat also achieved by Siobhan Ambrose in Clonmel-Cahir - with both certain to be mentioned for a party nomination for the national poll.

 

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