Labour Cllr. Frank McBrearty Jr. is believed to be the leading candidate to succeed Donegal Mayor, Fine Gael Cllr. Noel McBride, when the county council holds its annual general meeting next month.
At Monday’s council meeting, councillors set their AGM for 5 pm on June 25th, immediately following the council’s regular June meeting.
Labour is expected to take the top seat in the council chamber next year, but the Raphoe-based councillor would not comment on the rumours when contacted yesterday. Labour Cllr. Martin Farren could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Since his election three years ago, Cllr. McBrearty, current chairperson of the Stranorlar Electoral Area committee, has also been involved in a number of heated disputes in council chambers that drew public attention to councillors’ behaviour during meetings.
Cllr. McBrearty was also the Labour Party candidate in the Donegal South West by-election in 2010 and General Election in 2011.
At the council’s 2011 AGM, Fine Gael Cllrs. McBride and Barry O’Neill defeated Fianna Fáil Cllrs. Liam Blaney and David Alcorn by matching margins of 18-10, in the contests for mayor and deputy mayor.
Cllrs. Blaney and Alcorn were supported at last year’s AGM only by their party colleagues. Fianna Fáil councillors complained that they had been excluded from the power-sharing agreement that included Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, Labour and independents.
That agreement stemmed from a controversial budget meeting in December of 2009, when a quorum of nine Fianna Fáil councillors and Mayor Brendan Byrne adopted the 2010 council budget while the remaining 19 councillors were in a meeting down the hall. Since then, Fianna Fáil councillors have been critical of their exclusion by the new power-sharing alliance.
It is understood that under the more recent agreement, Labour councillors would serve as mayor and deputy mayor in 2012-2013; and members of the independent grouping would take the reins in 2013-2014. Sinn Féin led the council in 2010-2011, with Cllr. Cora Harvey as mayor and Pádraig MacLochlainn as deputy mayor, until he was elected to the Dáil and succeeded by Cllr. Marie-Therese Gallagher.