Politicians hit by dual-mandate ban opt to pass on council mantle to their relatives


Dual mandate ban: Fianna Fáil's losses have not been reflected among family dynasties, writes Marie O'Halloran.

Retaining the family seat in local politics has worked for many TDs and senators who gave up their council seats with the ending of the dual mandate.

The results show that the relatives of Oireachtas members are getting elected - some topping the poll, others scraping through in the last count. Historically, a family connection favours political candidates because they tend to inherit a ready-made organisation. And Fianna Fáil's overall losses have, for the most part, not been reflected among family dynasties.

Kevin O'Keeffe, son of former Minister Ned O'Keeffe, topped the poll in the Fermoy electoral area of Cork County Council, while deputy Batt O'Keeffe's son, Mark, got the second-highest vote in the Carrigaline district and was also elected. Gary O'Flynn, son of outspoken TD Noel O'Flynn, got elected to Cork City Council, having scored the second-highest first preference votes in his electoral area.

The Dáil's oldest TD, Mr Joe Sherlock, passed on the political torch to his son, Seán Sherlock, who topped the poll and was elected in the Mallow electoral area. Catherine Clancy, sister-in-law of another Labour Cork TD, Kathleen Lynch, got elected on the seventh count in the North-Central poll.

In Kilkenny Borough Council, Andrew McGuinness, son of Kilkenny Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, topped the poll and Catherine Phelan Holden, sister of Fine Gael senator John Paul Phelan, held the seat in the Piltown electoral area of Kilkenny. However, Paddy Hogan, brother of Fine Gael's Enterprise spokesman, Mr Phil Hogan, failed to hold the local authority seat on Kilkenny County Council.

Fine Gael had other gains, too. Tom Neville, son of Limerick TD Dan Neville, topped the poll in Limerick County Council and was elected on the first count. John Naughten, brother of the party's transport spokesman, Denis, topped the poll in Roscommon County Council while Sinéad Connaughton, daughter of FG Galway East TD Paul Connaughton, topped the poll in Galway County Council.

Fianna Fáil TD Michael Finneran's son, Trevor, was the second councillor elected to his ward in Roscommon County Council while in Dublin City Council, Charlie Ardagh successfully maintained the seat held by his father, Seán Ardagh, chairman of the Dáil justice committee. Mary Fitzpatrick, daughter of FF Dublin Central TD Dr Dermot Fitzpatrick, was also successful.

Some 102 TDs and 25 senators held a local authority seat which had to be given up in the local elections. In Fianna Fáil, 52 TDs and senators held a dual mandate and of that number, some 15 had relatives co-opted to their council seats. Of Fine Gael's 28 dual-mandate seats, six were taken up by family members. The Labour Party has 14 TDs and four senators affected by the dual mandate, with five relatives taking up council seats.

Emer Costello, wife of Labour's justice spokesman, Joe Costello, held his Dublin City Council seat, while in a reversal of the usual format, Cllr Eamon Tuffy maintained the seat of his daughter, Senator Joanna Tuffy, in South Dublin County Council. He had been a candidate in previous elections. Labour deputy leader Brendan Howlin's brother, Ted Howlin, got the second highest first preferences in Wexford and was the first candidate to be elected. He was already on Wexford Corporation. Labour deputy Willie Penrose gave up his seat on Westmeath County Council to his brother, Johnny, in 2002 before the advent of the dual mandate legislation and he topped the poll in Mullingar West.

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris's daughter, Cllr Toireasa Ferris, replaced him on Kerry County Council in 2002 and her efforts since were rewarded with election to the council on the second count, just 40 first preference votes behind Fianna Fáil's Anne McEllistrim, sister of deputy Tom McEllistrim, who was also elected. Among the Independent TDs, Kerry South deputy Jackie Healy-Rae passed on his seat to his son, Danny, in the Killarney area. Former Fine Gael Minister Michael Lowry's son, Michael, topped the poll in the Thurles area while Christopher Fox, the brother of Independent TD Mildred Fox, was elected to Wicklow County Council in the Bray area.