14 January 2010 Edition

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Fianna Fáil shenanigans on by-election and budget challenged

Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher

Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher

IF Fianna Fáil does not agree to a spring date for the Donegal South-West Dáil by-election then Sinn Féin will move the necessary legislation to have the poll held, Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has warned.
The by-election is to fill the seat left vacant as a result of the election of Pat the Cope Gallagher to the European Parliament last year.
Senator Doherty said:
“It’s quite clear that the Government is running scared of the electorate in Donegal South-West.
“At a time when this state faces some of the hardest challenges in its history, many communities across Donegal are being left without a voice.
“This is completely unacceptable given that the Government has seen fit to move three writs for Seanad by-elections to take place which they are sure to win. This is an affront to democracy.
“Party Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD will, on the return of the Dáil, ask Fianna Fáil to agree to a spring date for the election to take place. If they do not agree on a date then we will go ahead and move the writ for the election ourselves.”

Also in Donegal, Sinn Féin Councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn this week outlined proposals the party is making for more democratic arrangements on Donegal County Council.
This is a bid to heal the rift caused by the decision last month of the council’s ten Fianna Fáil members to pass this year’s council budget in the absence of the other 19 councillors.
During the meeting on the budget, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, Labour and Independent councillors sought an adjournment for talks on the reduction of commercial rates. The meeting was adjourned for 45 minutes but was reconvened with only the Fianna Fáil members present.
The Mayor, Brendan Byrne, allowed the vote to go ahead without calling in the other councillors and the budget was passed.
This undemocratic move has led to Sinn Féin withdrawing from a technical agreement reached after last June’s local elections. The technical agreement with Fianna Fáil, Labour and an Independent was designed to form arrangements around allocating the positions of mayor, deputy mayor and committee roles.
Sinn Féin is now pushing for a commitment by all parties and elected members to all-inclusive power sharing, including the following allocation of mayors and deputy mayors over the remaining four-and-a-half years:
  • Fianna Fáil to complete this mayoral term and one more year;
  • Fine Gael one year;
  • Sinn Féin one year; and
  • The final year to be agreed between Fine Gael, Independents, and the Labour Party.

The sequence of the respective terms would be agreed in discussions between all groupings on the council.
The rift arising out of the budget meeting last month has left its mark and on Tuesday of this week the 19 non-Fianna Fáil councillors moved to put a motion of no confidence in Mayor Brendan Byrne, which will be put at this Monday’s council meeting.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn with Pearse Doherty 


An Phoblacht
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