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County Council’s major power play

Thirty councillors will share the spoils of power on Galway County Council after Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and six Independents agreed a ‘chains and chairs’ deal for the next five years – to include the election of the county’s youngest ever Mayor tomorrow (Friday).

The two Civil War parties had a sufficient majority to go it alone, but wooed six Independents into the power pact that leaves nine Councillors from Independent Ireland (six), Sinn Féin (two) and Republican Sinn Féin (one) out in the cold.

Fianna Fáil flirted and held talks with Independent Ireland – which included two of its own who recently defected to the new party – to try to form an alliance to block Fine Gael, the largest party with 13. But the Soldiers of Destiny (eleven) plumped for the stability offered by its former foe and rubberstamped a deal on Tuesday night.

It’s understood Fine Gael insisted on including Independents. That was partly because they’d worked well together over five years of the previous pact and because they were needed to retain control of Conamara Municipal District. Independents also provide stability and a buffer if any of the main parties’ councillors jumped ship before the next election.

Thirty-nine Councillors were elected to County Hall following the June 7 Local Elections, and all bar nine of them are in the power pact including 13 from Fine Gael, eleven from Fianna Fáil and six Independents (James Charity, Geraldine Donoghue, Tomas Grealish, Karey McHugh, Evelyn Parsons, and Tom Welby).

That grouping will control who becomes Cathaoirleach (formerly mayor) of County Galway in each of the next five years, with Fianna Fáil to get two stints and Fine Gael three.

The first Cathaoirleach of the new Council – Fianna Fáil’s Albert Dolan – will be elected at the AGM at 9am this Friday, June 21.

Caption: Albert Dolan, incoming Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, chatting with Minister of State Anne Rabbitte at the recent count. Pic Gerry Stronge

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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