INDEPENDENT city councillor Kieran McCarthy is set to become Lord Mayor in 2023 under the terms of a “civic arrangement” deal with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party.
The pact between approximately 20 of City Hall’s 31 councillors sets out appointments such as the Lord Mayor and key committee positions for the next five years and ensures that a budget will be passed each year.
The details of the plan have emerged after Sinn Féin accused the councillors in the arrangement of “shafting” the others and moving back to “pact politics” after abandoning the more generous D’Hondt method used in the last council which allots positions based on the number of councillors per party and the strength of their first preference votes.
Fianna Fáil councillor John Sheehan was elected Lord Mayor on Friday night, and his party will get the chain again in year three of the five-year council term. Fine Gael will hold the chain in years two and four, while Mr McCarthy will be Lord Mayor in year five with a Green Party Deputy Mayor.
Despite having four councillors, the Green Party lost the opportunity of a year with the Mayor’s chain after abstaining in the election of Mr Sheehan on Friday and only joining the arrangement a day later.
The pact members have also shared out key committee chairmanships between themselves — each of which carries a €6,000 pay boost.
The agreement does not require a whip on members, with Green Party councillor Lorna Bogue voting on a case-by-case basis for different appointments at Monday night’s council meeting.
Independent Ger Keohane also has an informal agreement to back the group on certain votes in exchange for a few committee appointments and support for a number of issues in Glanmire.
A row broke out at Monday night’s meeting over appointments to external committees like the Southern Regional Assembly, and the board of the Cork Opera House.
Speaking after the meeting, Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould said the groups in the new arrangement were being “greedy” and taking positions on bodies that they had no interest in just because they could.
“They’re dividing them up like the loot after the victory,” said Mr Gould, whose party was halved down to four seats at last month’s election.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would have got the majority of what they got under D’Hondt,” he said.
“They probably would have got 70% of what they got last night, but they wanted everything.
“It’s like a child going into a shop and getting sweets they don’t even like, but it’s just because they can have what they want,” he said.
Mr Gould said the arrangement has shut out a third of the council.
“There’s four Sinn Féin people, a Solidarity, a Labour, a Workers’ Party, and three independents — a third of the council has no voice.
“Every voter should be respected, no matter who they voted for.
“We have no issue with them having the majority of positions because they won more votes. But that doesn’t give them the right to totally exclude us,” he said.
Sinn Féin is taking legal advice on the method used to vote on appointments on Monday.
Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon, defending the new arrangement, said that he cannot wait to see the legal advice and hopes Sinn Féin publishes it when it is delivered.
He said he was shocked by the behaviour in the chamber on Monday night, but said that Sinn Féin needed to accept its election losses.
“We’re not going to be bullied by that kind of buffoonery. We won’t be threatened by Sinn Féin. At the end of the day, Sinn Féin take their wins all over the north and wherever they get them. It amazes me that it’s only a ‘pact’ when they’re not involved. They took everything from Fine Gael the last time,” he said.
Mr Shannon said the arrangement reached between Fianna Fáil and the others was the only one possible during ten days of negotiations.
He said that there were issues in the independent group as they were not all on the same page, and there was no interest from the smaller parties, though discussions were held with Labour’s John Maher.
Mr Shannon said that Sinn Féin demanded a year in the Lord Mayor’s office and a continuation of the D’Hondt system, but communications broke down quickly.
Sinn Féin has disputed his claim, however, saying that the party said that it would have to work out an agreed nominee for the final year with the Greens and the independents.