Political parties looking to do deals for the council chair

Story by Ann Casey

Thursday, 30th May, 2019 4:44pm

Political parties looking to do deals for the council chair

sharon keogan.jpg

Speculation as to who will take the top job in Meath County Council is intensifying  with the Fianna Fail, Fine Group and Independent groups holding meetings this week to decide what pacts they should enter into to decide the chairmanship of the council.

All of the party's and independents will have their eyes on the prestigious role of Cathaoirleach and negotiations will be intense in the run up to the election of the chair at the annual meeting of the council next Friday.

No political grouping has a majority on the 40 seat council, so deals will have to be done. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have 12 seats each, there are 10 independent councilors, three Sinn Fein councilors and one each from Aontu, Social Democrats and Labour.

Also to the forefront of  councillor's minds will be the casual vacancy that will exist due to Cllr Sharon Keogan's election in both the Laytown/Bettystown and Ashbourne electoral areas.

By law, she must notify the council of  which area she wishes to represent on the council by tomorrow (Friday.)

From then, a casual vacancy will exist on the council, which will be filled by a co-option. Any councillor can nominate someone for co-option which has to be endorsed by a majority of the councilors.

Cllr Keogan is expected to make her own nomination to the council, but she might not receive the backing of the remainder of the council.

There has been speculation that the two main party's Fianna Fail and Fine Gael could come to an agreement to share the chairmanship, which would also include the co-option. One of the names mentioned by sources is that of Lisa Mellor, the Fianna Fail candidate who narrowly missed out on a seat in Ashboure.

There is also the possibility of one of the Fianna Fail or Fine Gael entering into an agreement with the Independents, along with some of the smaller parties - possibly Sinn Fein, the Social Democrats, Labour and Aontu - and this would leave the question of the co option to be decided among this group.

Cllr Keogan did indicate during the election that she would consider a constitutional challenge if the councillors co-opt someone other than her nominee to fill her second seat.