Council to defend co-option case

County councillors have given the county manager the go-ahead to defend a High Court action over the co-option of replacement for Senator Jimmy Harte.

County councillors have given the county manager the go-ahead to defend a High Court action over the co-option of replacement for Senator Jimmy Harte.

Last week Letterkenny solicitor Dessie Shiels was granted a judicial review in the High Court over the co-option of Michael McBride to replace the Labour Party senator.

Mr. Shiels took nearly 1,900 first preferences as an independent candidate in the general election in Donegal North East. He is claiming that the council seat should have been filled by a non-party candidate as Senator Harte was elected as an independent in 2009 before he joined the Labour Party.

Cllr. McBride was co-opted on May 30th following the election of Mr. Harte. The Labour Party has said Cllr. McBride was not a member of the party.

Both sides are to return to the High Court on Friday to fix a date for hearing.

County Manager Seamus Neely asked councillors at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the council for permission to instruct the county solicitors to defend the action.

Labour Party councillor Frank McBrearty Jnr said he is disappointed that the council is having to defend such a case in a time of recession.

“I know Donegal County Council will defend this in the proper manner and the proper decision will come out in due course,” he said.

“I know the proper result will come in the end and have total faith in the county solicitors in dealing with this issue and when it is over I will speak publicly about it.”

Cllr. McBride thanked councillors for supporting the county manager in the case.