Fianna Fáil has cobbled together an alliance with Labour Party and Independents to ensure a county mayoral pact for the next five years of Cork County Council. A new Mayor of Cork County is to be elected today, with one of the front-runners, Frank O’Flynn from north Cork.
Despite Fine Gael securing 20 seats, Fianna Fáil with 18 seats will manage to control the 55-seat council. The horsetrading for mayoral seats got underway in earnest just days after the election and Fine Gael made a number of overtures to different parties to try and gain the balance of power.
However, Fianna Fáil held an advantage as, on the previous council, they held an agreement with the Independents. The previous pact made approaches far easier and, by last Wednesday, handshakes on a deal were replaced with a documented agreement.
The Independents have 10 seats on the new council. Fianna Fáil could have done a deal with just the non-party members to gain a majority. But, sources close to the talks indicated they were worried that some of the Independents could join mainstream parties in the coming months, as occurred in the last council.
The likely insurance policy was provided by tying the two Labour councillors into the tripartite agreement. It not only includes a rotation of the office of mayor for the next five years but an agreement on who will chair council SPCs (Special Purposes Committees) and municipal district councils.
The Irish Examiner understands that five Fianna Fáil councillors have put their hats into the ring to seek the title of Mayor of Cork County. The selection process commences at 11am in County Hall.
Among those interested are Frank O’Flynn (Fermoy), Joe Carroll (Skibbereen), Christopher O’Sullivan (Clonakilty), Gillian Coughlan (Bandon) and Ian Doyle (Charleville).
Informed sources say Mr O’Flynn may have the edge, being the longest-serving Fianna Fáil member on the council. He has not held the office of Mayor previously.
Mr O’Flynn’s 30 years unbroken service surpasses the total of his other four colleagues.