The electorate of Meath voted for new politics on 23rd May and their county council should reflect this in full, according to Sinn Féin Councillor Darren O'Rourke.
In advance of tomorrow's inaugural meeting of the new council, Cllr O'Rourke, who is Sinn Féin's group leader on Meath County Council, called on Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independents to end the politics of partisanship in the county and use the 'group' system to ensure that equity, fair play and proportional representation are at the heart of the new Council.
He said: "Meath returned 13 Fine Gael members, 10 Fianna Fáil members, nine Independent members and eight Sinn Féin members to Meath County Council. This Friday the Council will meet for the first time to fill positions on the various boards and committees that give full practical effect to our individual and collective mandates. In years gone by the practice in Meath, it being an exception, was that the governing party(ies) would divide these positions between themselves, leaving some political voices unheard.
"Should we in Sinn Féin enter any coalition/alliance we have made it a negotiating bottom line that we will not isolate any group within the council. It is clear that the four blocks - ourselves, FF, FG and Inds - have legitimate and significant mandates from the people of Meath. This mandate should extend to all areas of council work.
"On Friday we will propose that positions on all boards and committees are filled on a proportional basis, much like the 'group' system employed in many council chambers around the country, or the D'Hondt system employed in the North.
He added: "Indeed, this spirit of equity, fair play and proportionality is stipulated in legislation and guidelines governing committee appointments. The Local Government (Reorganisation) Act, 1985 (section 27), for example, was designed to allow for a basic element of proportionality in appointments to committees, etc, while the guidelines giving effect to the Strategic Policy Committees said, "SPC Councillor membership should reflect the proportionality and the distribution of elected representation on the full Council. This, unfortunately, has not been the case in Meath."
He said: "I am calling on individual councillors and council groupings on Meath County Council to recognise the will of the electorate and to ensure that it is reflected, in full, across all council committees and boards. The people of Meath voted for new politics. We should all be determined to deliver it."
Meath County Council meets on Friday, with Fine Gael and the Independent councillors expected to combine to take the reins of power.