Longford County Council is seeking legal advice in a bid to clarify its position in the wake of a controversy over Sean Gallagher’s presidential nomination at this week’s meeting.
It follows a stormy meeting of the local authority on Monday evening during which a motion put forward by Fianna Fail Cllr Martin Mulleady to give notice of the council’s intent to support Gallagher was passed.
However, a number of Fine Gael representatives led by Cllr Alan Mitchell claimed the motion put down by Cllr Mulleady had no legal foundation.
“It’s a legal nullity,” said a bemused Cllr Mitchell, as he called for the motion to be deferred until September by putting down an amendment to Cllr Mulleady’s original request.
Without Cllr Gerry Brady and incoming mayor Cllr Frank Kilbride to support the Fine Gael submission, that motion was defeated by 10 votes to nine as independent Cllrs Paul Connell and Mark Casey opted to side with Fianna Fail.
That defeat, as spelled out by outgoing Mayor Cllr Paul Connell, effectively meant Cllr Mulleady’s motion was ratified.
“The council is giving notice of its intent to support Mr Gallagher,” Cllr Connell said before pointedly remarking that the decision may well be “overturned” at the council’s September meeting.
As elected representatives vacated their seats, there was confusion about whether or not the local authority had in fact given its support to Mr Gallagher.
Yesterday morning, the Co council informed the Leader that legal advice was being taken in a bid to resolve any uncertainties. Director of Services Frank Sheridan said the issue would have to be re-visited.
“The important point to get across here is that we as a council can’t nominate anyone for the office of President until such time as a presidential order is made. It has no legal binding on the council anyway,” he said.
Last night, Sean Gallagher said he was delighted. “Yesterday evening (Monday) I met with the outgoing Mayor of Longford Cllr. Paul Connell (Ind) and he informed me of the decision of the Council to support my nomination. He informed me that all procedures were correct and congratulated me on achieving the support from the members of the Council in Longford. It’s a great honour to have received this support from Longford Co. Council.”