Pádraig Pearse Award nomination divides the chamber

The seemingly innocuous matter of Mayo County Council nominating someone for the Pádraig Pearse Award took a long time to get sorted out over the course of two meetings of the local authority this month. The item initially came up for decision at the March meeting of the council which was held last Monday week, March 7 but was adjourned after both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil had nominated An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Dep Éamon Ó Cuív  respectively.

When the council met again this Monday, March 14 at a special meeting which was called to fill the seat vacated by the departing newly elected TD Dep Lisa Chambers, the item was tagged on to the end of the agenda at this special meeting. In the week between the meetings, Fine Gael had decided to withdraw their nomination of Enda Kenny for the award, but Fianna Fáil held fast in their nomination of Éamon Ó Cuív for the award.

During the discussion on the item, Sinn Féin through Cllr Rose Conway Walsh put forward the name of Historian Catherine Corless for her work on the discovery of the Mother and Baby Home scandal in Tuam and Independent Cllr Gerry Ginty proposed Mary Robinson to be nominated for her work over they years. Cllr Ginty said that while he had nothing against Éamon Ó Cuív and recgonised he had done great work for rural Ireland, he had an issue with a sitting politician being nominated by the council for the award.

A short adjournment of the meeting was called by the acting chairperson of the council for the day, Cllr Damien Ryan who was filling in because both Cathaoirleach Michael Holmes and Leas Cathoirelach Brendan Mulroy were away representing the county at St Patrick's Day events abroad, to see could a consensus be reached on the nomination. But neither the Fianna Fáil side of the house or Cllr Ginty withdrew their proposals. Sinn Féin's Cllr Gerry Murray said that his party would withdraw their nomination, because it was clear that it wouldn't get the support it needed and that it would be undignified to put it to a vote.

When the vote was called to decide the matter, the nomination of Mary Robinson succeeded on a vote of 12-7 with the seven Fine Gael members of the council present voting for Cllr Ginty's proposal as did the the three Sinn Féin councillors and independent Cllr Frank Durcan, while the seven Fianna Fáil councillors voted for Éamon Ó Cuív and independent Cllrs Richard Finn ad Christy Hyland abstained from the vote.

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