Council expels absent Cosgrave

Fri, Sep 28, 2007, 01:00

Independent Dublin city councillor Niamh Cosgrave has been expelled from the council after failing to attend any council meetings for more than six months.

The former Fine Gael councillor has had a poor attendance record since she lost the Fine Gael whip in 2005, but her failure to attend any meetings for a period of more that six months means that she is "deemed to have resigned" under local government legislation.

Ms Cosgrave is the first councillors to have been unseated for not turning up to meetings. A new councillor will be co-opted to replace her, eventually bringing the number of non-elected councillors to 10 out of 52.

The daughter of former Fine Gael TD and current Fingal County Council member Michael J Cosgrave, Ms Cosgrave was elected to the council for Fine Gael in the Donaghmede electoral area in 1999.

She was re-elected in 2004 and had hopes of becoming lord mayor in 2005, however, Catherine Byrne was selected for the party.

Ms Cosgrave failed to attend the mayoral election meeting in July of that year and was ejected from the Fine Gael group.

She continued as an independent councillor, but her attendance at council meetings became increasingly rare. She did, however, return for the following year's mayoral election where she voted against Fine Gael's chosen candidate.

Fine Gael, in an electoral pact with Labour, had selected Labour's Paddy Bourke (now lord mayor) while Sinn Féin and Fianna Fail chose Independent councillor Vincent Jackson.

Ms Cosgrave's vote served to bring about a deadlock which was resolved when Mr Jackson's name was pulled out of a hat.

Ms Cosgrave's ejection from the party brings the number of vacant positions on the council to four, although the other three councillors resigned voluntarily.

Vacant places have been left by Paschal Donohoe (FG) who was elected to the Seanad, Brian Gillen (FG) who resigned in recent weeks citing family and business reasons, and Wendy Hederman (PD) who resigned, also citing work and family reasons.

The departure of Ms Cosgrave gives Fine Gael the opportunity to restore its complement of councillors to 10 and was welcomed last night by Fine Gael group leader Gerry Breen.

"We haven't had proper representation for people in the Donaghmede ward for some time, and hopefully we will now retain the seat at the next local elections."

Ms Cosgrave could not be contacted by The Irish Timesyesterday. Her former colleagues said she is now living in France.