TD confident AAA-PBP will get nominee co-opted to Cork council
Labour questioning of merged party’s right to co-opt termed ‘the biggest brass neck’
Mick Barry TD is confident the AAA-PBP has the power to nominate his replacement to Cork City Council, explaining the merged party has been recognised by the Register of the Dáil as being composed of both the AAA and the PBP. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Newly elected Cork North Central TD Mick Barry has expressed confidence the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit group will succeed in having their nominee Fiona Ryan co-opted onto Cork City Council - despite a challenge to the move by the Labour Party.
Ms Ryan was due to be co-opted on to the council to replace Mr Barry as a councillor for the North Central Ward last month but councillors voted by 14 votes to 13 to defer a decision pending legal advice after Labour questioned the legality of AAA-PBP nominating Mr Barry’s replacement.
Cork City Council director of corporate and external affairs Paul Moynihan said he was seeking legal clarification on the issue which is governed by Section 19.3A of the Local Government Act 2001 as the situation was not sufficiently clear to allow him advise the council to proceed with the co-option.
Under Section 19. 3A, what is termed a casual vacancy on a council, such as caused by the election of a councillor to the Dáil, is filled by the co-option to the council of a person nominated by the same registered political party who nominated the person vacating the seat for election.
The Labour Party has questioned whether the AAA-PBP can nominate Mr Barry’s replacement given that he was nominated to run for the council in 2014 by the AAA, which has since deregistered as a political party after its merger with the PBP to form AAA-PBP.
If Labour is correct, a different section of the Local Government 2001 Act, Section 19.3 B, dealing with non-party candidates, applies where the seat is filled according to Cork City Council’s standing orders by the next placed candidate in the poll, in this case Labour’s Catherine Clancy.
Mr Barry was confident the AAA-PBP had the power to nominate his replacement, explaining the merged entity had been recognised by the Register of the Dáil as being composed of both the AAA and the PBP.
“We were involved in a merger with People Before Profit last year - the conditions we agreed with the Register of the Dáil was that we would deregister and People Before Profit would change their name to Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit and we would row in behind that.
“We immediately registered the new name, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit, so clearly there is continuity there and it continues today within the conjoined entity that is Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit - legally as well as politically and morally, we say the seat is ours to fill.”
Ms Ryan - who ran unsuccessfully for AAA-PBP in Cork South Central in the general election - accused Labour of arrogance in seeking to have their candidate co-opted on to the council after they were roundly defeated in the local elections when they lost all their seven seats on Cork City Council.
‘Betrayal of people’
“Cork has told Labour exactly what it thinks of their politics.
“Cork has rejected Labour and their betrayal of the people they are supposed to represent - we will not allow a situation where through technicalities and, frankly, the biggest brass neck I have ever seen, to sneak back into relevance.”
The matter is due to be discussed at tonight’s Cork City Council meeting but at the last meeting two weeks ago there was strong support for Ms Ryan and the belief PBP-AAA were entitled to nominate her to replace Mr Barry.
Cllr John Sheehan of Fianna Fáil said Mr Barry had always gone before the electorate as a member of the Socialist Party or the AAA and he could never have been cast as an Independent, which would be necessary if the vacancy was to be filled by the next placed candidate in the 2014 local election.
There was also an issue regarding respecting the democratic views of the people, and the person co-opted to replace Mr Barry should reflect the way people voted in 2014 and in that spirit, the council should facilitate the co-option of Ms Ryan, he said.