Legal advice sought in row over co-opted council seat

Cork City Council is expected to discuss legal advice tonight after a challenge to the filling of a vacant seat.

Two weeks ago, the Labour Party challenged the co-option following the Dáil success of former Anti Austerity Alliance councillor Mick Barry to represent Cork North Central.

As councillors met after the Easter bank holiday weekend, city officials revealed they had received correspondence just days earlier from an “interested party” questioning the validity of the process being pursued by the AAA/PBP which has nominated Fiona Ryan to take over Mr Barry’s council seat.

The Labour Party later confirmed it was the ‘interested party’ “seeking clarification” under specific parts of Section 19 of the Local Government Act 2001.

The section 19-3A deals with casual vacancies following the election of a councillor to the Dáil, It sets out how a vacant council seat should be filled by a person nominated by the same registered political party which nominated the person vacating the council seat.

Mr Barry won the council seat while a member of the AAA. But it was deregistered in 2015 as a political party following a merger with People Before Profit.

The Labour Party has sought clarification as to whether the casual vacancy in this case should in fact be dealt with under Section 19-3B of the Local Government Act, as it relates to independent candidates.

The section says such casual vacancies should be filled following the council’s own standing orders which here would see Mr Barry’s seat go to next placed candidate,former Labour lord mayor Catherine Clancy.

The council’s head of corporate affairs Paul Moynihan told councillors the situation was not sufficiently clear to allow him advise the council to proceed with the co-option.


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