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FF wrest back control of Council as pact agreed


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

FF wrest back control of Council as pact agreed FF wrest back control of Council as pact agreed

Fianna Fáil has wrested back control of Galway City Council from Fine Gael by brokering a deal with the Labour Party, Sinn Féin and two Independents.

The agreement was negotiated – and signed – on Tuesday evening in the Galmont Hotel, according to multiple sources among the 10 members of the Council’s new ruling pact.

The majority grouping of councillors includes four from Fianna Fáil (Alan Cheevers, John Connolly, Josie Forde, Peter Keane), three from Labour (Helen Ogbu, John McDonagh, Níall McNelis), two Independents (Mike Cubbard, Declan McDonnell), and Sinn Féin’s only rep (Aisling Burke).

They will control the budget, the Mayor’s office, and positions of power such as chairpersons on strategic policy committees, over the next five years.

Fianna Fáil and Labour secured two Mayors each in the deal. It means City West’s Peter Keane, the longest serving councillor not to have served as First Citizen, will be elected Mayor of Galway when the new Council first meets at its AGM next Friday, June 21.

Keane, a solicitor, was nominated for the position a handful of times during his three terms to date on the Council. But Fianna Fáil didn’t have the numbers, including in 2019 after their electoral success returned five councillors. Despite being the largest party, pact negotiations broke down five years ago.

The new deal for Labour means Helen Ogbu, the city’s first Black public representative, will become the first person of colour to hold the office of Mayor in Galway.

Fianna Fáil’s second mayor is thought to be City East poll-topper Alan Cheevers, while Labour’s John McDonagh – who won a seat at the third attempt – could take the chains ahead of McNelis, who held the position previously.

Two-time mayor, back-to-back from 2019-21, Independent Mike Cubbard is pencilled in for a mayorship in the pact’s third year.

The deal leaves Fine Gael (Frank Fahy, Eddie Hoare, Clodagh Higgins, Shane Forde), the Social Democrats (Alan Curran, Eibhlín Seoighthe) and two Independents (Donal Lyons and Terry O’Flaherty) out in the cold.

The outgoing pact of Fine Gael, Labour, Greens, and Independents had a loose understanding that they would re-negotiate their way back into power after last Friday’s Local Election, but a stronger Labour Party – with two extra seats – plumped for Fianna Fáil over Fine Gael.

Caption: Pictures of all the newly elected Galway City Councillors appear on the video display at the end of the  local elections count at Westside Community Centre. Photo: Brian Harding.

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