Calls to elect Dublin lord mayor directly

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CALLS HAVE been renewed for a directly elected lord mayor of Dublin city as the chain of office passed from Labour councillor Andrew Montague to Fine Gael’s Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí in a rotating arrangement by the two Coalition parties.

Mr Ó Muirí, an engineer who runs a technology company, was elected by 32 votes to six for Independent councillor Mannix Flynn, the only other nominee, with 11 abstentions.

Councillor Clare Byrne, a daughter of Fine Gael TD and former lord mayor of the city Catherine Byrne, was elected deputy lord mayor.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin abstained in both votes and did not nominate candidates. Councillor Mary Fitzgerald said her party made no nomination because the mayoralty was a ceremonial role “but it costs almost €1 million a year”. Calling for a directly elected mayor, she said “we need a real leader with executive powers”.

Councillor Larry O’Toole criticised the “carve-up” of the position between Government parties as “an example of why we don’t have stronger local government”.

The new mayor, who said he wanted to be a “happy warrior”, turning the city into a “happy home for all” said his priorities included turning Dublin into a major digital hub.

He also wants to promote the capital as a tourism destination and work to turn derelict sites into eco-parks with the co-operation of Nama. Mr Ó Muirí also said he planned to invite all mayors from “Dublin in south Australia to Dublin, Texas” to the city for next year’s Gathering.

City and county councils around the State last night elected new mayors including Labour councillor Frank McBrearty from Raphoe as mayor of Donegal.

Mr McBrearty’s family featured prominently in the Morris tribunal, established to investigate Garda corruption in Co Donegal.

Mr McBrearty pledged to work for all the citizens of the county. “I will work hard to promote Donegal and I want to support the issues of sport and mental health in my year in office,” he said.

In Limerick Irish and Munster rugby player, Labour Councillor Gerry “Ginger” McLoughlin has been elected mayor after Fine Gael decided not to support its own candidate Cllr Pat Kennedy.

There has been ongoing tensions within the Fine Gael group following revelations about his controversial expenses. A former mayor, Cllr Kennedy returned almost €1,700 to Limerick City Council for mileage expenses claimed for a car that was off the road.

In Galway, Independent councillor Terry O’Flaherty, a former Progressive Democrat, was elected mayor for the second time, having served in 2003-2004.

She follows her mother Bridie O’Flaherty, who served in 1980-1981 and again in 1985-1986, defecting during her second term from Fianna Fáil to the PDs.

The new mayor was elected with the support of the Labour Party and the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil-Independents rainbow group.

In Cork, Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer has been elected mayor. A brother of Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer, he succeeded Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon. The lord mayor of Cork city is paid about €90,000 a year once allowances are factored in.

Barbara Murray, a full-time Fine Gael councillor from Youghal, becomes only the second woman to hold the office of the mayor of Co Cork.

The new mayor of Kerry is Labour Cllr Terry O’Brien. Fianna Fáil’s Johnny Wall is mayor of Tralee while Sinn Féin’s Tom Barry becomes mayor of Listowel. In Killarney two brothers take the top positions. Labour’s Seán O’Grady has been elected mayor and his brother, Independent Donal Grady, becomes vice-chairman of the nine-man council.

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