Jackie Healy-Rae tipped to replace son on council

THERE is growing speculation that retired TD Jackie Healy-Rae may replace his son Michael on Kerry County Council after the latter’s election to the Dáil.

Four seats must be filled on Kerry County Council, along with one on Tralee Town Council, as a result of the general election.

Three of the vacancies are in Kerry South.

Healy-Rae senior, who turns 80 on Wednesday, is in good health. He has never lost his appetite for local politics and was a fierce critic of the ending of the dual mandate in 2003. He once considered supporting a challenge to the legislation precluding Oireachtas members from holding local authority seats.

Sources close to the family have confirmed that the proposition that Jackie take over “is being given serious consideration” as one of a number of mainly family- based options.

Healy-Rae supporters will meet to consider the options for filling the independent seat.

Meanwhile, a row has broken out over the filling of former Fianna Fáil councillor, now independent TD Tom Fleming’s seat.

According to sources, the Fianna Fáil party claims that the filling of the casual vacancy that arises from Mr Fleming’s election to the Dáil is a matter for the party, since it was as a Fianna Fáil councillor that he won the seat in the Killarney electoral area.

The 2001 Local Government Act seems to support this claim.

It says that within 14 days of the vacancy arising, “a casual vacancy shall be filled by the co-option by the local authority of a person to fill the vacancy ... subject to such person being nominated by the same registered political party who nominated for election or co-option the member who caused the casual vacancy.”

The now-independent Fleming camp wishes to fill the seat with its own nominee, former councillor Brian O’Leary, whose father John was a Fianna Fáil TD, and who supported Mr Fleming in the general election, is a preference.

However, the party wants the vacancy filled by either of two sitting Fianna Fáil Killarney town councillors, Tom Doherty or John O’Donoghue of the Gleneagle Hotel group, a staunch supporter of the former TD and Ceann Comhairle, but no relation.

Meanwhile, the election of Labour’s Arthur J Spring to the Dáil creates vacancies on Tralee Town Council and Kerry County Council. Speculation is that his brother Graham Spring will be encouraged to take at least one of the seats.

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