A GP on Cork’s northside is set to be elected Lord Mayor of the expanded city tomorrow night even as last-minute talks on a voting deal continue.
And one of the first big issues facing the new council will be contentious plans to halve the number of public meetings - from two a month to just one.
Previously, two public meetings were held every month - on the second Monday of the month, and two weeks later.
However, the city boundary extension prompted a major reorganisation of the council's internal and political structures, with new local electoral area (LEA) committee meetings proposed for each of the city's five LEAs and just one full council meeting in public per month.
Officials insist that the restructuring will facilitate more direct engagement between councillors and officials - giving councillors more time to discuss local issues with officials at the LEA meetings.
"The ultimate aim is that these LEA committee meetings will be in public but as this is a complete change, we're starting with two public meetings for each LEA in a year plus one public council meeting a month," council chief, Ann Doherty said.
But she said the new LEA committee structure will need time to bed in and will not be held in public before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil, which with eight seats, is the largest party on the 31-seat city council, will tomorrow night put forward Cllr John Sheehan, a GP based in Blackpool, as their nominee for Lord Mayor.
While talks between the various parties and independents are expected to continue right up to before tomorrow night's council AGM, his nomination is expected to be supported by Fine Gael, which has seven seats, and at least two independents.
If such a voting arrangement goes ahead, it will signal the end of the d'Hondt mayoral-sharing system, which saw the chain of office held by Sinn Fein and an independent in the last five-year term, and a return to a pact arrangement.
Mr Sheehan said he is honoured to secure the party’s nomination:
It is a huge honour, a big opportunity and a very exciting time to get the nomination, given the city expansion. My first priority, when it became clear the nomination was a possibility, was to inform my family and then to think of my patients and of the practice.
The married father-of-four has arranged locum cover for the year but plans to continue working part-time in his practice, alongside his practice partner, Dr Antoinette Morrison, if he’s elected later.
Mr Sheehan, who graduated from UCC in 1991, interned at Cork University Hospital before completing the three year Cork GP training scheme in UCC.
He spent three years working as a family practitioner in New York before returning to Cork where he worked as a lecturer in UCC’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, where he completed his MD on cardiovascular risk factors.
He has a special interest in medical education, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. He has been working as a GP in Blackpool for 16-years.
A total of 13 new city councillors - Colm Kelleher and Mary Rose Desmond (FF), Derry Canty, Garret Kelleher, Damian Boylan, Shane O’Callaghan and Deirdre Forde (FG), Lorna Bogue, Dan Boyle, Colette Finn and Oliver Moran (Green Party), Ger Keohane (Ind) and John Maher (Lab) - will take up their seats in City Hall tomorrow night. Four - Desmond, Canty, Forde and Keohane - are former county councillors.
The first full ordinary meeting of the new council takes place on Monday.