Tipperary’s highest vote getter in the local elections, Cllr Michael Smith, seems set to lose the Fianna Fail party whip having voted on three occasions against colleagues at the first Thurles Templemore Municipal District meeting, in order to be elected Chairman of the committee.
The extraordinary move by the Cllr Smith has resulted in a massive division in the party at local level - a party which only three weeks ago was hailing as a ‘renaissance’ the magnificent return of four councillors from nine in the district.
All of that has fallen apart now though after Cllr Smith sided with Sinn Fein, the Lowry team and Independent Cllr Jim Ryan to vote against a FF/FG pact at district level.
And, having signed a pledge to abide by party rules, upon receiving the Fianna Fail nomination to stand in the local election, members of Fianna Fail are now pushing for the party to take action and remove the whip from Cllr Smith, or expel him from the party altogether.
“Fianna Fail people were thrilled at the returns from the local elections, but now they are dismayed at all of this carry-on. We thought these days were long gone, but Michael Smith has brought us back to the bad old days again,” one Fianna Fail source said.
Smithsonians though have rallied around the embattled cllr with an impromptu meeting of the Roscrea members pledging their support.
Paddy Cody (FF Comhairle Cheanntair Chairman) said that the FF organisation in the area will support Cllr Smith in whatever decision he takes but urged that no rash steps be taken. Conty Cunningham warned that any attempts to exclude the poll topper, would result in dire consequences.
Cllr Smith himself said, “A lot has happened in the last week and I must reflect on every aspect of this and decide what is the right course of action for me to take at this stage. Politics is a tough business and one has to take the rough with the smooth.’
Were he to lose the whip, Cllr Smith would not receive the party nod for the General Election. See inside for more.