Fiona Ryan co-opted to replace Mick Barry on Cork City Council
Month long delay after Labour questioned right of AAA/PBP to nominate successor
Newly elected Cork North Central TD Mick Barry has been replaced on Cork City Council. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Newly elected Cork North Central TD Mick Barry has been replaced on Cork City Council when councillors voted overwhelmingly for the AAA/ People Before Profit nominee, Fiona Ryan to be co-opted to take his place on the council.
Councillors voted by 19 votes to two with three abstentions to co-opt Ms Ryan on to the council after receiving their own independent legal advice following a month long delay after Labour had raised questions about the right of the AAA/PBP to nominate Mr Barry’s successor.
Ms Ryan’s co-option to fill the vacancy in Cork North Central ward on the council caused by Mr Barry’s election to Dáil Éireann to represent the Cork North Central constituency brings the AAA/PBP representation on the council to three, all women.
Labour had questioned whether or not Mr Barry and the AAA/PBP had the right under the Local Government Act 2001 to nominate his successor as he had been elected in 2014 for the AAA but was a member of the AAA/PBP when he was elected to Dáil Éireann.
Labour, who lost all their councillors in the 2014 local election, had argued that under Section 19.3 A of the Local Government Act only the party that nominated Mr Barry to run in the 2014 local election when he won the council seat, had the right to nominate his successor for co-option.
However because the AAA had deregistered in August 2015 as part of its merger with People Before Profit, the AAA no longer existed and as Mr Barry was not nominated in 2014 by the AAA/PBP, the new entity similarly could not nominate his successor to fill the seat.
Labour argued that another section of the Local Government Act 2001, Section 19.3 B applied which rules that in the case of non-party candidates, the council’s standing orders apply.
In this case, it would have meant the seat would go to the next placed candidate, Labour’s Catherine Clancy.
Two weeks ago Cork City Councll’s legal officer advised councillors there was a gap in the legislation and that new legislation needed to be enacted to allow councillors to fill the vacancy created by Mr Barry’s election to Dáil Éireann but councillors opted to get their own legal advice.
It is understood that a senior counsel had advised the council could seek guidance from the High Court by asking for a declaration in relation to Section 19 of the Local Government Act but that this could prove highly expensive and would lead to a delay in filling the vacancy.
Co-opting Ms Ryan was the option of least risk and the course of action most consistent with the council’s obligations under Section 19 of the Local Government Act, observed the senior counsel in advice which was discussed by councillors in committee.
Ms Ryan was then nominated by Cllr Lil O’Donnell of the AAA/PBP and seconded by Cllr Ted Tynan of the Workers Party and was duly co-opted by 19 votes to two after she received the support of her party colleagues, most Fianna Fáil councillors, independents and Sinn Fein councillors.
Fianna Fáil Cllrs Terry Shannon and Mary Shields voted Ms Ryan’s co-option with Cllr Shannon saying that as someone who was pro-Life, he was opposed to Ms Ryan’s campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment while the three members of Fine Gael abstained.
Thanking councillors for their support, Ms Ryan said that she intended carrying on the fine campaigning work by Mick Barry in highlighting the plight of working class people in Cork North Central ward in particular with regards to water charges, housing, employment and emigration.
Employed in the financial services, Ms Ryan (27) said that as a young person, she was also determined to make sure their voices were heard, in particular the voices of young women and she would work to repeal the Eighth Amendment to ensure women had abortion rights.