The co-option of an Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) member onto Cork City Council was dramatically deferred last night after a challenge emerged.
City officials told councillors that they received correspondence from an “interested party” last Thursday querying the proposal to fill the casual vacancy which has arisen following the election to the Dáil of former AAA councillor Mick Barry.
The challenge, understood to be the first of its kind facing the city council, relates to Section 19 3 A and B of the Local Government Act 2001, and points out that the AAA deregistered as a political party last year.
The challenge is understood to argue that, as a result, the co-option of an individual nominated by a deregistered political party is invalid.
It is also understood the challenge suggests that the vacant council seat in the city’s north central ward should be filled by former Labour councillor Catherine Clancy, who, as sitting lord mayor, was the highest profile casualty of the Labour wipe-out in Cork City during the 2014 local elections.
Despite questioning from several councillors, the council’s head of corporate affairs, Paul Moynihan, declined to reveal the identify of the interested party.
He told councillors that any decision they make on filling a casual vacancy must be legally robust to withstand possible legal challenges.
Councillors then voted to defer the co-option pending the receipt of that clarification.
However, Mr Barry, who watched proceedings from the public gallery, said it was clear that the deferral happened on foot of actions by a “defeated and vindictive Labour Party”.
He said following a merger of the AAA with People Before Profit (PBP) last year, the AAA deregistered as a political party, and that PBP changed its name to AAA/PBP, a name which was immediately registered.
He said the Oireachtas Ministerial and Parliamentary Allowances Amendment Act 2013 allowed for merged allowances, and that last year, the Department of Finance recognised that merger and continuity by sanctioning a merged leader’s allowance.
He insisted that the north central ward will get a councillor of the AAA tradition and that the AAA will use all means to ensure that.
The AAA went into last night’s council meeting having chosen financial services worker, Fiona Ryan, 27, to replace Mr Barry on the council.
Speaking afterwards, Ms Ryan said the electorate had rejected the Labour Party, its politics and policies, and that the AAA will fight to ensure the political tradition Mr Barry represents continues on the city council.
“We will not allow a situation where through technicalities, cynicism, and frankly the biggest brass neck I have seen, Labour sneaks their way back into relevance,” she said.
A member of the Socialist Party as well as the AAA, Ms Ryan stood in the recent general election for AAA/PBP in the Cork South Central constituency.
She lives in the southside of the city but plans to move to the northside if her co-option is sanctioned. Ms Ryan is a prominent supporter of the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment and an opponent of water charges.
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