Politics

Stormy scenes in Donegal County Council Chamber

Row over councillor’s vote for Údarás representative

Eamonn McFadden

Reporter:

Eamonn McFadden

Email:

eamonn.mcfadden@donegaldemocrat.com

Stormy scenes in Donegal County Council Chamber

Proposed candidates for Údaras, Cllr John Shéamais Ó Fearraigh and Cllr Seamus Ó Domhnaill.

There were heated exchanges in the chamber of Donegal County Council on Monday over a disputed count to elect a member to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta.
Sinn Féin proposed Cllr John Shéamais Ó Fearraigh for the position while Fianna Fáil proposed Cllr Seamus Ó Domhnaill.
A vote, via a show of hands was counted by Director of Service Joe Peoples who informed the meeting chairman, Cathaoirleach Cllr Gerry McMonagle, that Cllr Ó Fearraigh received 12 votes while Cllr Ó Domhnaill had eleven.
The chairman deemed Cllr Ó Fearraigh elected, but this was met with strong opposition from a number of Fianna Fáil councillors who claimed the count was inaccurate and that Cllr Ó Domhnaill had garnered more votes than the figure stated. They demanded the vote be retaken as a “recorded vote”.
Cathaoirleach Cllr McMonagle said the vote stood and they could not demand a recorded vote retrospectively.
After stormy scenes the Cathaoirleach, Cllr McMonagle adjourned the meeting for ten minutes to allow order to be restored.
Before normal business recommenced, a retake of the vote was requested by Cllr Ciaran Brogan who said they were “entitled to it” under the Local Government Act.
His party colleague Cllr Ó Domhnaill said the chairman was “not showing independence in the chamber”.
Cllr McMonagle responded saying he did not vote on the matter and that the count was carried out by Mr Peoples.
The matter was then raised again when chamber reconvened after lunch and Cllr McMonagle adjourned the meeting from 2pm to 3pm to allow legal advice to be sought.
At 3.30pm Cllr McMonagle sought a further adjournment saying the legal advice was not ready but he understood it would be ready by 4pm.
The meeting later heard that the advice was still being sought and the members proceeded to hold a discussion on a motion on Local Property Tax.
Once this had concluded in the evening, the Cathaoirleach said he had again been in contact with the county council solicitor who advised him that he would require more time to consider the matter further, and he would not have legal advice ready by the close of business.
The meeting was then adjourned until Monday, October 2nd.
Cllr Frank McBrearty asked if a senior counsel was consulted by the council solicitor and if the legal advice would be in written form?
He was told that it would be in written from but senior counsel was not consulted.
Cllr Ciaran Brogan said as the person who was seeking the legal advice he believed that there were 14 members who had voted for the Fianna Fáil candidate. The Fianna Fáil members circulated a list of the names with each one signed by named councillor who claimed they had voted.
Cllr Brogan said he did not believe the alleged miscount was intentional and was a “genuine mistake” but it caused “huge annoyance”.