High Court sets aside Kerry Council vote to elect members to board of partnership

The judge said she was satisfied that the local authority had not used the correct voting procedures to select the two councillors
High Court sets aside Kerry Council vote to elect members to board of partnership

The judge said she will hear submissions as to whether the matter requires to be remitted back to Kerry County Council (pictured) and if so whether it should be remitted back to a meeting composed of the elected members who were present on 16 November 2020, at the time when the decision at the centre of the action was reached, or to some other meeting. File picture: Domnick Walsh

A decision taken by Kerry County Council to select two elected councillors to the board of a local community development partnership has been set aside by the High Court.

The decision, taken in November 2020, was challenged by Independent County Councillor Charlie Farrelly, who claimed that the procedure used in respect of the nomination of two members to the board of the North, East, and West Kerry Development Partnership was flawed and should be set aside.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Niamh Hyland said she was setting aside the decision to elect two other councillors to the partnership's board.

The judge said she was satisfied that the local authority had not used the correct voting procedures, required under the 2001 Local Government Act, to select the two councillors.

The judge said that "requirements of legal certainty and transparency dictate that, where a process identified as applicable to an appointment of members to a body is deemed unlawful, the decision resulting from that process cannot be treated as lawful".

This is so, she added, even though the steps taken in this case mirrored the steps in a different process otherwise available to the council. Cllr Farrelly, who represents the Castleisland Local Electoral Area in Kerry, claimed that in November 2020 the council was to select two councillors to go on the partnership's board.

The partnership is a community initiative involved in rural development, set up under the EU Leader programme. 

Voting system

The candidates, he claimed, should have been selected by the elected members using what is known as the Group Voting System, a method designed to ensure minority bloc representation on certain bodies.

He claimed this process involves elected members forming groups to nominate board members to the partnership, with the members of a successful nominating group being excluded from successive groups.

He claimed that it was unlawful not to use the Group Voting System, and the council should not have used individual voting to select the two nominees. In this process, Cllr Farrelly, who was represented in the proceedings by Elizabeth Murphy Bl, claimed that no groups were formed.

This had the effect of having the same majority of councillors on Kerry County Council successively appointing both members to the partnership's board and the minority member's votes being rendered ineffective.

He claimed that the council officials argued that it was entitled to select members for the board in the manner it did. However, Cllr Farrelly disputed this.

Judge's ruling

Arising out of the vote, Cllr Farrelly sued Kerry County Council and the Partnership seeking various declarations and orders quashing the council's purported appointment last November of two members to the partnership's board, and that at its next meeting the council select two members to go on the board.

The action was opposed by the council who denied that the procedure used was incorrect and urged the court not to disturb the outcome of the vote. The judge noted in her judgment that the applicant had been nominated for appointment to the board but was unsuccessful in two rounds of voting.

Having accessed the evidence raised in Cllr Farrelly's action, the judge said she was satisfied that the voting procedure used in this situation was not one that was open to the council. The council, she added, had not used the correct procedure as required, but in this case had relied on a different procedure.

For those​ reasons, the decision must be set aside, the judge said.

The judge said she will hear submissions as to whether the matter requires to be remitted back to the council and if so whether it should be remitted back to a meeting composed of the elected members who were present on 16 November 2020, at the time when the decision at the centre of the action was reached, or to some other meeting.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

logo podcast

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

IE logo

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

  • 1
  • 9
  • 17
  • 25
  • 30
  • 31
  • 39

Full Lotto draw results »