With nine seats apiece, the parties would have an 18-15 majority on the new 33-member council.
Fine Gael, Labour, and Independents controlled the previous 27-member council. But, with both Fine Gael and Labour losing seats and Sinn Féin increasing its representation, a possibility of a new alignment has opened up. Sinn Féin now has five seats, Labour two, and Independents eight.
However, it is understood moves are already under way between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to clinch a deal to share control of the council, which involves a mayoralty in Tralee and three new municipal districts in Tralee, Killarney, and Listowel.
Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were non-committal yesterday. Veteran Fianna Fáil councillor Michael O’Shea said that the party’s newly-elected councillors had their first meeting on Tuesday night and had set up a team to negotiate with interested parties.
“We must wait and see what’s going to happen. We had an intense debate on all the options and will negotiate with all interested parties,’’ he said.
Fine Gael whip Bobby O’Connell said his party was looking at all options and was not ruling out an alliance with Fianna Fáil.
The council will have its first meeting, at which a mayor will be elected, on June 6. But a new alliance, which will also have control of positions on a number of committees, is expected to be forged in advance.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin is likely to demand that the position of mayor of Co Cork be rotated among all five elected groupings as a condition of any support for another party to gain the balance of power.
Fianna Fáil, in particular, has made no secret of the fact it is prepared to cut a deal with Sinn Féin. Despite being the largest party on the council with 17 seats, Fianna Fáil needs 11 allies to secure a majority.
Along with Sinn Féin’s 10 councillors, Fianna Fáil would only need one councillor among the 10-strong Independents, or Labour’s pair, to get over the line.
A Sinn Féin source said one of its conditions for support would be in line with the d’Hondt system. “This is based on the overall percentage vote of each party so everybody’s mandate is respected [for the post of mayor],” the source said.