Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd likely to become leas ceann comhairle this week

Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd likely to become leas ceann comhairle this week
Fergus O'Dowd, Fine Gael TD from Louth, is likely to become leas ceann comhairle this week. File Picture: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd is likely to be voted in as leas ceann comhairle on Thursday.

Mr O'Dowd is expected to be selected by secret ballot and then formally elected to the role by an open vote in the Dáil chamber, where he is expected to backed by his coalition partners in government Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

The plum position has a salary of €96,189 with an added €38,787 salaried allowance.

Unlike junior ministers, the leas ceann comhairle - the deputy chairperson of Dáil Éireann - keeps their overnight allowance to ensure they can remain in Dublin if needed.  They can opt for payment of the overnight allowance only and apply for alternative travel arrangements with agreement of the finance minister. Ministers, ministers of state and the ceann comhairle are not entitled to claim the travel and accommodation allowance.

Mr O'Dowd, a Louth TD and fluent Irish speaker, has been in the Dáil since the 2002 general election, having previously been a member of the Seanad. He has served as chair of the committee on transport, tourism and sport during the controversial FAI scandal last year. He said he has the right experience for the role.

"I'm obviously very happy, I'm delighted to have been asked to run, but it's a matter for the Oireachtas to decide," Mr O'Dowd said.

I have been in politics a very long time. Since 1974, I've been a mayor, county councillor, a senator, and a TD, so I'm very lucky to have been elected or selected five times in the last elections.

"I've a lot of experience to bring to the house, I'm a previous chair of the transport committee so I have a fair bit of experience and a track record of being fair and to be objective and letting everyone have their say."

Independent TD for Galway Catherine Connolly has also put her name forward for the role.

Ms Connolly, the former mayor of Galway, has often taken on the role as temporary chair of the Dáil when requested by the ceann comhairle and has served as chair of the committee on the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the islands.

It's understood Ms Connolly has received unanimous support from the Independent group to put her name forward and will be backed by the largest opposition party, Sinn Féin.

A woman has never been elected as either ceann comhairle or leas ceann comhairle in the 101 years of Dáil Éireann.

The previous leas ceann comhairle, Pat "The Cope" Gallagher, was unseated in February's election by Sinn Féin's Padraig MacLochlainn.

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