Council leader resigns in port board vote row

A MAJOR split among the 12 Fianna Fáil members on Limerick County Council led to the snap resignation at the weekend of the group leader, Cllr Kevin Sheahan.

An emergency meeting of the group has been called for tonight to investigate the absence of three of the Fianna Fáil members from a crucial vote last Thursday in which Cllr Sheahan was ousted from his position as the council’s representative on the Shannon Foynes Port Company.

One of the absentee FF councillors was Cllr Noreen Ryan, who was added to the Fianna Fáil general election ticket in Limerick East to run with Defence Minister Willie O’Dea and Peter Power, TD.

There was speculation last night in Limerick that some FF councillors may call for her removal as a FF general election candidate and replace her with Cllr Eddie Wade who was furious that Cllr Ryan was added in preference to him by party headquarters.

When the council met last Thursday to nominate it’s representative on Shannon Foynes Port Company, Cllr Sheahan lost out to Cllr David Naughton of Fine Gael by 13 votes to 12.

Cllr Naughton secured all 12 FG votes and the one Labour vote.

Cllr Sheahan got the support of the three PD members but only nine of the 12 members turned up for the meeting.

Prior to the vote being taken frantic FF members tried to make mobile phone contact with their three missing colleagues.

One Fianna Fáil member who was present, said Cllr Ryan informed them she was stuck in traffic on the Ballysimon Road.

Another, Cllr Michael Collins, from Newcastle West who is the deputy FF leader on the council was abroad on business and Cllr John Gallahue is reported to have been recovering from a recent illness.

The vote was to have been taken on Monday last, but that meeting was adjourned as a mark of respect to Garda Brian Kelleher and firefighter, Mike Liston who were killed in a horror road accident the previous day near Foynes.

Cllr Collins, according to one FF source was not consulted about re-fixing the meeting for last Thursday.

When told of the new date, he informed colleagues that he had a business meeting abroad and had booked flights.

Cllr Sheahan would still have held on to his port company position if either Cllr Ryan or Cllr Gallahue turned up as in the event of a tie, the casting vote of chairman Cllr Eddie Creighton, PD, would have gone to Cllr Sheahan.

The council nomination for the port company is seen as one of the most prestigious outside positions in its gift.

Cllr Naughton, who happens to be a brother-in-law of Cllr Sheahan, was at the centre of another voting controversy in 2005 when he contested the chair of the council and opposed Cllr Brigid Teefy (PD).

Fianna Fáil and the PDs had a pact on the chair and control the position.

However, Cllr Noreen Ryan threw the proverbial spanner in the works when she crossed the floor when the vote was called and supported Cllr Naughton.

A furious Cllr Sheahan sent letters to his 11 colleagues at the weekend informing that he was no longer chairman of the FF group on the council.

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