Maura Healy-Rae, 25, was co-opted onto Kerry County Council and the Killarney municipal district in March following the election in February of Danny Healy-Rae to the Dáil.
Ms Healy-Rae, a teacher at St Brogan’s in Bandon, Co Cork, had been expected to take over as mayor of Killarney, which the meeting in Tralee heard was one of the most important and busiest cathaoirleach functions of any municipal area in the State.
Danny Healy-Rae had agreed a pact with Fine Gael, and with Fianna Fáil, in 2014 that he would take over the chair of Killarney muncipal district yesterday, if had remained a councillor. Ms Healy-Rae expected to succeed in his stead.
However, Fianna Fáil instead put forward the Healy-Raes’ arch rival, the Independent councillor Brendan Cronin.
Mr Cronin, a farmer, has been a councillor for 17 years and had succeeded his now late father PJ Cronin, a political rival of the late Jackie Healy-Rae. Mr Cronin was seconded by Fine Gael’s John Sheahan. Ms Healy-Rae was proposed and supported only by Independent Donal Grady of Killarney and was forced to second herself.
Niall Kelleher, who proposed Mr Cronin and who is secretary of Fianna Fáil on the council, said the agreement reached after the 2014 local elections with then councillor Danny Healy-Rae ended upon his election to Dáil Éireann.
“Two days later on February 29, a new agreement was reached with Cllr Brendan Cronin. At this time Maura Healy-Rae was not a member of Kerry County Council and could not have been part of any agreement. These are the facts,” Mr Kelleher said.
Ms Healy-Rae said she was disappointed and had it been someone else’s turn she would have honoured her father’s agreement and voted for whoever else was in the pact. As the only female member in Killarney she would have relished the role.
Her brother Johnny Healy-Rae, also a councillor, said: “There was a gentleman’s agreement, but in this case there was a lady involved. We always honoured such agreements. We’ll carry on with what we always do and represent the people and won’t be short of a job.”
Meanwhile, one of the youngest councillors in the country, Fianna Fáil’s John Francis Flynn, 25, has taken over as cathaoirleach of the largest municipal district in the country, the nine-member South and West Kerry which stretches across three peninsulas from Kenmare to Dingle.
Fine Gael’s Aoife Thornton has taken the chair in the seven-seater Listowel municipal district and Labour’s Terry O’Brien has been elected cathaoirleach of the nine-seater Tralee district.
The new cathaoirleach of the 33-member Kerry County Council is Fianna Fáil’s Michael O’Shea of Milltown, a councillor for 22 years.