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Independents 'likely' to form 'tried and tested' alliance with Fianna Fáil in Cork County Council

Independents 'likely' to form 'tried and tested' alliance with Fianna Fáil in Cork County Council

The Independents look likely to form an alliance with Fianna Fáil to take control of Cork County Council when newly elected councillors meet for the first time on June 7.

Horsetrading is likely to get underway by the end of this week and that alliance looks the most likely outcome unless Fine Gael comes up with a surprise.

Fianna Fáil took 20 seats of the 55 on the new council, with Fine Gael two behind.

Sinn Féin, the Green Party and Labour have two seats each and even if an unlikely alliance was to be cobbled together with all of them by one of the big two parties, it wouldn't be enough to give them a majority.

The Independents have 10 councillors and were yesterday awaiting the outcome of a recount in the Bantry Electoral Area, which could give them another seat.

Either way, they make up the grouping which will be the kingmakers.

Cllr Declan Hurley, spokesman for the Independents, alluded to the pact which existed in the previous council between the Independents and Fianna Fáil.

Fine Gael controlled the local authority for many years until 2014 when Fianna Fáil managed to successfully court the Independents.

Cllr Hurley said that pact "was tried and tested".

"We have worked well with Fianna Fáil. But we'll have to see what's on offer (from parties). Under that pact, we got the Mayor every two years and some chairmanships of SPCs (Special Purposes Committees). We won't accept anything less," he said.

However, Cllr Hurley said the Independents, which include some new faces, will have to sit down together to get a consensus.

"It's only fair that we listen to everyone's views. I hope we can all touch base before the end of the week," he added.

The most likely Independents to look for the mayoral chain of office are Cllrs Danny Collins and Mary Linehan-Foley, who garnered an impressive 3,149 and 2699 first preference votes respectively.

Fianna Fáil deputy leader on the council, Cllr Frank O'Flynn, acknowledged that the previous pact with the Independents had worked well.

However, he said nothing would be decided until he and his party colleagues meet, which is "likely to be this week."

"It's early days yet," he added.

Fine Gael's leader on the council, Cllr Kevin Murphy, said he would be calling a meeting of his party's councillors in "the next 48 to 72 hours" to discuss if they will try and create a pact or not.

Among them will be two brothers, John Paul and Tony O'Shea.

Fine Gael will no doubt conduct a post mortem on why two former TDs - Noel Harrington and Aíne Collins - failed to get elected.

Cllr Murphy said the party would have to "assess options" on a possible approach to the Independents.

"I think we'll have to make a quick decision as June 7 is coming up fast," he added.

There will be 21 new councillors in County Hall.

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