SINN Féin is to seek legal advice on voting procedures in City Hall meetings after a new pact saw Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil win the lion’s share of committee appointments in the new Cork City Council.
The skills of new Lord Mayor John Sheehan (FF) were put to the test at the first full meeting of the new council term tonight as a debate over appointments descended into a shouting match.
Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould accused Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and several Independents and Green Party members of “shafting” everyone else as they voted together to horde nominations to committees and external bodies.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Independents Ger Keohane and Kieran McCarthy, and Green Party members Dan Boyle, Oliver Moran, and Collette Finn — Lorna Bogue broke with her Green colleagues — coordinated their votes while appointments were being decided.
However, other Independents and small party councillors protested against the voting system, where separate for/against votes on nominations were used to fill multiple seats — essentially granting the pact councillors the power to fill every position.
The row broke out over nominations to the Southern Regional Assembly, with the two available positions going to Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon and Fine Gael councillor Shane O’Callaghan. Sinn Féin councillor Henry Cremin lost out.
Councillors from all sides shouted over each other for 10 minutes as they decided on how to vote.
After a request to consult standing orders on how to fill positions, City Hall executives confirmed that the Lord Mayor is entitled to decide how such votes are carried out, with Mr Sheehan opting for separate for/against votes.
His colleague Mr Cremin said he would be seeking legal advice on the voting procedures after the meeting.
A number of accusations of “shafting” and “gerrymandering” were thrown across the room, while Workers’ Party councillor Ted Tynan attempted to disrupt the actual voting by speaking over others.
Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill made said that the D’Hondt voting system, used by the previous council, would have returned the same two councillors as the positions would have gone to the two largest parties.
The same for/against method was used to fill appointments to 50 different bodies during last night’s meeting, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil taking most of the seats.