Fianna Fáil have retained the top positions in the new Kerry County Council, with support from Fine Gael and Labour and three independents.
It means Cllr Niall Kelleher of Killarney has defeated independent councillor Johnny Healy-Rae of Kenmare at the council's AGM in Tralee today.
Cllr Kelleher 33, a married father of three and originally from Rathmore, was first elected in 2014 and was the outgoing chairman of the county’s Joint Policing Committee.
The position of leas-chathaoirleach or vice chair has gone to his colleague Cllr Norma Moriarty of the Kenmare electoral area, a general election candidate for Fianna Fáil.
Cllr Kelleher is the 64th person to occupy the chairperson’s role in Kerry since the council was established in 1899 and he replaces Cllr Norma Foley of Tralee, also of Fianna Fáil.
Fighting traffic congestion, developing roads and greenways, and maximising the tourism potential of Kerry will be priorities for the new chairman.
Cllr Johnny Healy-Rae was proposed by his sister Independent councillor Maura Healy- for the chair, and he received support from his first cousin, Cllr Jackie Healy-Rae, as well as from the four Sinn Féin councillors and three independents, Cllrs Charlie Farrelly, Niall O’Callaghan and Cllr Donal Grady.
Fianna Fáil have returned with 10 councillors and are the single biggest party on the council, and the only party with councillors in all six electoral areas in Kerry.
Fine Gael have returned with seven councillors, two fewer than previously, having lost their seat in Killarney and in the new electoral district of Castleisland. Sinn Féin have also lost a councillor and now have four members and are confined to Tralee and Listowel.
Ten independents have been elected to the council, including three new councillors.
Of the 33 available votes, Cllr Niall Kelleher received 22, Johnny Healy-Rae got 10, while Cllr Dan McCarthy (Ind) of Kenmare abstained.
The first annual meetings of the each of the five Municipal Districts in Kerry – Tralee, Killarney, Kenmare, Listowel and Castleisland-Corca Dhuibne – will be held on 14 June.