The biggest vote getter in County Tipperary has been acused of ‘stabbing his party and his cousin in the back’ to claim the Chair of the Thurles Templemore Municipal District having voted against his own party.
Cll Michael Smith, who grabbed 2,568 first preference votes in the local election and was one of four Fianna Fail candidates elected in the District, was accused of smashing a signed pact with Fine Gael to claim the Chair against party colleague and cousin John Hogan who had been put forward by Fianna Fail for the position.
The unprecedented move by Cllr Smith arose after he had been proposed for the position by Cllr Micheal Lowry and subsequently received the support of Cllrs Willie Kennedy, Jim Ryan, David Doran and Micheal Lowry.
Cllr John Hogan had been put forward by Cllr Seamus Hanafin and garnered support from Cllrs Jackie Cahill, Joe Bourke, Hanafin and himself.
This meant that Cllr Smith, who was the last to vote due to the poll being taken in alphabetical order, was left with either voting for himself to take the chair, thereby breaking the pact, or voting for Cllr Hogan for the position as he was expected to do by the party. Cllr Smith voted for himself resulting in a most unsatisfactory beginning for the Municipal District.
Worse still, a head to head resulted in the position for the second place on the Thurles Swimming Pool Board. Cllr Seamus Hanafin received the majority vote, but Cllr David Doran (Sinn Fein) and Cllr Jackie Cahill (Fianna Fail) ended up with five votes apiece. Cllr Smith looked to pull the names from a hat to decide who would take the position, but when this was not agreed, Cllr Smith then ended up with the casting vote and he opted for Sinn Fein’s Councillor Doran, rather than his party colleague, Cllr Cahill.
“The Fianna Fail/Fine Gael pact is broken by you Cllr Smith a week after it was agreed, and it’s all as a result of greed. You have stabbed your party colleagues and your second cousin in the back for thirty pieces of silver,”Cllr Hogan said.
“Each one was put forward in a democratic manner and I do not take kindly to the remarks of stabbing in the back. At the end of the day, all of us should work together,” Cllr Smith answered.
“Who is us? Obviously not your Fianna Fail colleagues,” Cllr Hogan replied
There was huge tension in the council chamber following the unprecedented move by Cllr Smith, whose position within Fianna Fail now comes sharply into focus. And, the angry exchanges within the chamber, some of which could not be printed for legal reasons, suggest that the five year term of the District will be anything but harmonious. Cllr Smith was due to receive the position of Chairman in year three of the term, as well as the Chairman of the Tipperary County Council in year two. All of this is now up in the air and he could well find himself isolated within his party.
Cllr Smith and Cllr Hogan were elected to the Board of Roscrea Swimming Pool after Cllr Joe Bourke, who had also been nominated, withdrew his name.
Councillor Jackie Cahill was elected Vice Chairman of the Municipal District having been proposed by Cllr Jim Ryan and seconded by Cllr David Doran.