The only Labour Party councillor in County Tipperary has been elected Chairman of the Nenagh Municipal District having received the support of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in a cross party pact.
Cllr Fiona Bonfield, a political newcomer, outwitted some of Tipperary’s longest established public representatives to claim the position. And, despite huge criticism, Cllr Bonfield called for a united front going forward in a bid to ensure the smooth running of the District and a maximising of resources for the area.
Cllr Seamus Morris and Michael O’Meara had attempted to scupper the pact idea prior to the election of Chairman, following a plea from Cllr Hughie McGrath that the ‘Nenagh system’ of first past the post be adopted. This would have meant that Cllr Joe Hannigan would be the first Chairman of the District and Cllr McGrath pointed out that he was seeking the system because it has worked so well in Nenagh.
“Personally, I would have nothing to gain from it, but I do think it is the best system,” Cllr McGrath said before proposing Cllr Hannigan for the Chair - he was seconded by Cllr Seamus Morris.
Cllr Phyll Bugler proposed Cllr Bonfield and she was seconded by Cllr Matty Ryan. In an unusual twist to the vote, Cllr Bonfield won out by 6 votes to 3 with her opponent Cllr Hannigan, voting for her.
There were many exchanges concerning the formations and pacts, past and present, but Chairman Bonfield appealed to councillors to move on and work together for the good of the area.
Cllr Hughie McGrath was elected Vice Chairman having been proposed by Cllr John Carroll and seconded by Cllr Ger Darcy.
Cllrs Hughie McGrath, Seamus Morris and John Carroll were elected to the Board of Nenagh Arts Centre while a special Standing Orders committee comprising Cllrs Bugler, Carroll, O’Meara, McGrath and Bonfield was also elected.
Cllr Morris has sought to have a ruling introduced to prevent councillors from signing in at meetings and then leaving. This, he said, was a major problem at County Council level with councillors abusing the system. He asked for this to be addressed in Standing Orders and the sub committee is to look into this possibility.