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Donegal councillors considering legal opinion on hotly contested ‘Údarás vote’

Carolyn Farrar

Reporter:

Carolyn Farrar

Email:

carolyn.farrar@donegaldemocrat.com

Donegal councillors considering legal opinion on hotly contested ‘Údarás vote’

Donegal County Council is adjourned for 45 minutes while councillors consider a legal opinion in relation to a disputed election at last week’s council meeting.

Cllr. Gerry McMonagle, council cathaoirleach, told councillors this morning that the legal advice had been received.

The legal advice was presented to council members in committee, after media representatives were asked to leave the council chamber.

Liam Ward, council director of service, told councillors that when legal advice is sought by council as a body, that advice would be considered in committee. However, once the advice has been considered, elected members can continue in public forum at their discretion, Mr Ward said.

The meeting is to reconvene at 11.45am.

Councillors had sought legal advice sought following a disputed show of hands election count in the council chamber last Monday over an appointment to the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

There were heated exchanges last week over the disputed count to elect a member to the Údarás board. 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, Cllr McMonagle, that Cllr Ó Fearraigh received 12 votes while Cllr Ó Domhnaill had 11.

The council cathaoirleach 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. They demanded the vote be retaken as a “recorded vote”.

Cllr McMonagle said the vote stood and they could not demand a recorded vote retrospectively.

A retake of the vote was requested by Fianna Fáil Cllr Ciaran Brogan, who said they were “entitled to it” under the Local Government Act.

This was refused and legal opinion on the matter was sought from the council solicitor.