New power-sharing deal ‘opportunity to change’ as Cllr Mary Shields elected

A last-minute power-sharing deal secured the election of Fianna Fáil Cllr Mary Shields as the new Lord Mayor of Cork last night.

The D’Hondt system, a version of which has been adopted by city councillors, will usher in a new era of inclusivity, Sinn Féin insisted, rejecting criticism that it is a continuation of the pact system which has dominated the council chamber for the last three decades.

Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and three Independents — Cllrs Mick Finn, Paudie Dineen and Thomas Moloney — supported Fianna Fáil’s nomination of Ms Shields which saw her beat Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA) nominee, Cllr Lil O’Donnell, 26 votes to four.

The three Anti Austerity Alliance councillors and Workers Party Cllr Ted Tynan supported Ms O’Donnell. Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy abstained.

Ms Shields’ party colleague, Cllr Ken O’Flynn, was voted Deputy Mayor beating Cllr Ted Tynan.

Her election was in doubt right up to the start of the city council’s annual meeting at 7pm after the Sinn Féin-proposed D’Hondt system appeared on the brink of collapse.

The party called a press conference at 5.30pm during which Jonathan O’Brien TD said the system, which was apparently agreed on Thursday night, was unworkable after several Independents appeared to jump ship.

However, after a frantic hour of negotiations, a deal was locked down and a version of the D’Hondt system was agreed.

It will see the mayoralty go to SF next, followed by FG, a member of the technical group or Independents, and FF in year five of the council.

Bishopstown-based Cllr Shields, who has seven children and was first elected to council in 1999, said her ambition for the next year was to give service above self for the people of Cork.

“People are tired of partisanship and petty politics. The last election offers us an opportunity to change that culture and attitude,” she said.

“It won’t be easy. It will require a new spirit of cooperation. Let us seize the moment to look beyond our differences and to the challenges that unite us.”

Tributes were paid to outgoing Lord Mayor Cllr Catherine Clancy, who lost her seat in the Labour local election wipeout. She said: “I have lived the dream. What a year. What an honour.”

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