'Ball is in headquarters court', says Longford Fianna Fáil group leader as fallout over unsuccessful Connellan co-option rumbles on

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford County Council headquarters

Longford County Council headquarters

Fianna Fáil chiefs are coming under increasing pressure to clarify growing uncertainty surrounding the successor to newly elected TD Joe Flaherty's county council seat following an unsuccessful attempt last night to co-opt former Town Councillor Michael Connellan onto the local authority. 

Mr Connellan had been widely expected to assume Mr Flaherty's seat at a county council meeting yesterday evening, but due to legislative uncertainty concerning Mr Connellan's employment status with child and family agency Tusla, those attempts ended in failure.

The meeting was consequently adjourned to a date yet to be decided, thereby raising further question marks as to who might succeed Mr Flaherty at county council and Longford Municipal District level.

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According to Fianna Fáil group leader Cllr Seamus Butler, party representatives at local level were still in the dark as to how the ensuing impasse might be resolved.

"The ball is in headquarters' court now," he told the Leader.

"Three full working days notice has to be given in order to call the next meeting and until we have a candidate, we can't call it."

Cllr Butler was also pressed about whether party chiefs might reconsider its initial decision to hand-pick Mr Connellan following an interview selection process which also involved former local election candidate Uruemu Adejinmi.

"I don't know," was his response to whether a selection convention might now be called, but indicated Ms Adejinmi had been in talks with Mount Street bosses since last night's meeting.

Cllr Butler also admitted there were "lessons to be learned" over the controversy, but that those lessons were ones which applied to "head office" officials.

"If you interview someone for a job, you must make sure they are eligible," he said.

"They (head office) did the interviews." 

The Leader unsuccessfully attempted to make contact with Mr Connellan earlier today, but did speak to 2016 Fianna Fáil general election candidate Connie Gerety Quinn.

The Carrickedmond native opted against passing judgement on last night's meeting, preferring instead to state the controversy "spoke for itself".

She also expressed her own frustration at the "prescriptive" way in which her own employment status precluded her from running for public office locally.

"It raises questions over fairness, equality and how there seems to be different standards for the likes of teachers and not for others," she said.

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