MAYOR John Gilligan has entered into a pact with the eight-strong Fine Gael members on Limerick City Council for next Monday’s mayoral election, scuppering any deal with the four Labour party representatives.
The deal means the next five mayors of Limerick City are set to be four Fine Gael councillors and one Independent.
Fine Gael’s spectacular success in scooping eight of the 17 Limerick City Council seats gives it the dominant presence in City Hall and in the lead up to next Monday’s mayoral election, the party has been engaged in negotiation with each of the other parties on the council.
The expectation was that Labour, with the next highest score of four seats would enter a pact with FG to give a majority voting strength of 12.
It had earlier been understood that the one remaining Fianna Fail councillor, Kieran O’Hanlon would provide the majority of one vote required by FG to assign mayoralties, deputy mayoralties and chairs of the council’s Strategic Policy Committees, all of which come with salaries.
The week leading up to the mayoral election in City Hall has been one of political deals and counter deals, with some last minute dramatic twists snatching the mayoral chains from candidates who were even favourites. Notably in the past few years, Cllr Maria Byrne and Cllr Kevin Kiely were unexpectedly pipped at the post.
Mayor Gilligan, who confirmed to this newspaper on Wednesday that he is “very happy to have signed a pact with Fine Gael,” has in so doing collapsed the theory that FG could be faced with an opposing majority of nine from a total of four Labour votes, three Independents, one Fianna Fail and one Sinn Fein vote.
‘We made our decision to do a deal with John Gilligan after weighing up all the options – we’ve spoken with all the councillors. John Gilligan was an excellent mayor and he has great insight into the opportunities that are available for our city. Because of the particularly difficult economic situation we are in a very akward situation but Gilligan realises the challenges and shares our vision to drive the city forward.
We had a serious discussion with Labour and then reflected on all our options – it was a group decision that with Gilligan we were on the best way forward to work for the city,” Cllr Ger Fahy, leader of the FG group told this newspaper.
Asked what gain the pact would cede to the outgoing mayor, Cllr Fahy said “ John will be allocated the chair of an SPC, there could be more than one”.
And the mayoralties?
“We could take five of the mayoralties and Maria Byrne and Kevin Kiely who missed out by just one vote, will be top of the list.
Mayor Gilligan, who was first elected to city council in 1991, said: “I will work in tandem with Fine Gael – I’m a democrat but it is good not to be on the sideline.
“I never got a chair of any committee in all the time I’ve been on the council – I was kept out but this pact is not just about the mayoral election on Monday night – we have to look at the bigger picture of doing the best for this city for the next five years and that’s what I intend doing”.
Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon strenuously denied reports that he intends to leave Fianna Fail and become an Independent.
“I’m very happy and grateful, particularly to the people of Garryowen for re-electing me and also very happy to continue to work for my constituents as a Fianna Fail councillor.”