Thurles Council to Have Just Eight Members?

By Noel Dundon

Discussions are continuing behind the scenes in the local cumann of the Fianna Fail party in Thurles this week on the subject of nominating a replacement for Cllr Gerard O’Brien who resigned from his position on the council in order to take up a new role as State Solicitor. The selection convention will take place on Friday May 11th we can reveal.

The Tipperary Star understands that the position must, by law, under the Local Government Act 2001, return to Fianna Fail since it is a registered political party.

However, the difficulty for the party will be in trying to persuade some of the other eight members of the council to propose, and second, a Fianna Fail party member.

The other eight councillors cannot put forward another non-Fianna Fail candidate, but the chance of them putting forward a Fianna Fail candidate would seem to be slim enough. The result could well be that Thurles Town Council will continue with just eight members, with Fianna Fail, for the first time ever having no representation at the table.

With a current power division of five votes to three, neither side would benefit from the addition of a Fianna Fail member to their side of the table, although both sides would probably welcome the extra vote to bolster strength.

We also understand that, should a Fianna Fail candidate be proposed and seconded, the Thurles Town Clerk Mr Michael Ryan, must have correspondance in writing from the Fianna Fail Cumann stating that this is the preferred choice of the party.

Letters have been sent to a numb er of Fianna Fail people in relation to the filling of the seat with unsuccessful candidates in the last local elections having been contacted. However, there is a move amongst some within the cumann to have a new look, fresh approach adopted and with this in mind, personalities such as Gerard Fogarty and Arthur Griffin, both of whom have come through the Ogra Fianna Fail ranks, are being mentioned as possible successors to Cllr O’Brien.

The next Town Council meeting takes place on Tuesday May 8th, but it is unlikely that the position will be filled at that meeting as the process can only be put into train then.

IT would be a highly unusual position for the council to find itself in, were there to be only eight members sitting around the table for the remainder of the term of the council. Indeed, it would seem rather undemocratic and unparliamentary that a local authority charged with responsibility for an area thorugh the process of public representation, would go against the suggested norm of nine, by simply not nominating a candidate to fill a casual vacancy.

At a time when moves are being made to cut the number of elected representatives - a move which is being vigorously opposed by councillors - it would seem strange that Thurles Town Council could see out it’s term with one councillor less than it’s quota.

Time will tell.