The election of Labour Cllr Lar Byrne as Chairperson of Tullamore Town Council last week has resulted in Sinn Fein making a vow that they would never do a deal with Labour again.
It also saw Branch Officers of the Tullamore Labour Party intervene in the controversy. “The Branch Officers of the Tullamore Labour Party are of the view the 2009 agreement for the appointment of Chairman of Tullamore Town Council should have been adhered to,” said the officers on their Facebook site.
However, they would not be drawn any further on the matter.
Cllr Brendan Killeavy (SF) produced the document drawn up in 2009 which saw councillors Molly Buckley, Tommy McKeigue (both Fine Gael), Sean O’Brien (then Labour, now Independent) along with councillors Byrne and Killeavy signing an agreement to vote together over the five year term, ensuring each on would take the chair.
Last year Cllr Byrne’s absence at the AGM saw councillors at a stalemate and resulted in drawing the names from a hat to pick a chairman.
According to the agreement the chair would have gone to Cllr Killeavy, but instead went to Cllr Sinead Dooley.
Then 2012 would have seen the four councillors voting in Cllr Byrne as Chair.
However at the meeting on Tuesday last, Cllr Byrne decided to vote with Fianna Fail councillors Sinead Dooley, Tony McCormack, Paddy Rowland and Declan Harvey to be elected as Chairperson himself.
Cllr Killeavy was propsed by Cllr Tommy McKeigue who described him as a young man who had made a major contribution and adapted well to his role as councillor. He said he represented the people in his constituency well. This was seconded by Cllr Molly Buckley.
Meanwhile Cllr Paddy Rowland proposed Cllr Byrne and was seconded by Cllr Harvey.
Cllr Byrne was elected by five votes to four.
“We did have a signed agreement which was made by five councillors in 2009. It was an honourable agreement but I’m afraid it wasn’t kept by all people. I’ll never do a deal with the Labour Party here in Tullamore again. Sinn Fein will never do a deal with Labour here again. It is unfair and doesn’t bode well for the council and future agreements,” said Cllr Killeavy.
As outgoing chairperson Cllr Sinead Dooley said she wouldn’t make any comment but that Cllr Killeavy’s comments were duly noted.
Cllr Paddy Rowland said they would all try to work for the good of the town.
“We’ve a job to do. The business is done and we are all here to do the best we can,” commented Cllr Sean O’Brien.
Director of Services Declan Kirrane congratulated Cllr Byrne on his election and assured him of the full support of the council. He said it would be a difficult and challenging year and the council would face problems.
He paid tribute to Cllr Killeavy for being “brave enough to put your name forward again” and said there was “still honour in serving constituents”.
Cllr Killeavy was once again nominated by Cllr McKeigue for the position of Leas Cathaoirleach, while Cllr Harvey was nominated once again for Leas Cathaoirleach, the same position he held last year, by Cllr Tony McCormack.
Cllr Harvey was again victorious with five votes to four.
Outgoing Chairperson Cllr Sinead Dooley described her year as “a superb honour and priviledge” and something she “genuinely enjoyed.”
She noted with pride having acted as Chairperson at a number of events including switching on the Christmas lights,launching Organ Donor Awareness Week, and opening Tullamore Show.
She stressed that the new person should get involved with local schools as the pupils reall appreciate it.
She said while other towns were struggling, Tullamore had a lot to be grateful for in terms of investment, which she described as a show of confidence in the town.
She said while members wont always see eye to eye, once elected, politics goes out the window and they all work tirelessly for the good of the town.
Cllr McKeigue said that Cllr Dooley had done herself, her party and her family proud over the year.
Cllr O’Brien said she had carried out a great year’s work and did the council proud.
Incoming Chairman Cllr Byrne congratulated her on an “excellent year”.
As the “only other woman on the council” Cllr Molly Buckley said she was very fair to everyone and “represented female councillors well.”
Town Manager Declan Kirrane said every Cathaoirleach brought their won style to the role and Cllr Dooley “did that in more ways than one.”