As the inaugural meeting of Westmeath County Council takes place in Mullingar County Buildings on Friday afternoon, the prevailing thoughts turn towards the creation of a stable local political environment, one which will enable necessary projects to progress and developments, originally mooted during the previous local authority regime, to be advanced in the newly created Athlone-Moate Municipal District and throughout the county.
The twenty elected representatives, who learned of their destiny, following an arduous two day counting of local election votes at Moate Community Centre where the ballots were formally totalled, will meet officially this week, but will have discussed the possible formation of political alliances to ensure that local Government runs in a smooth and productive manner over the next five years.
Boasting nine seats, the Fianna Fáil party has the strongest local political status around the elected representative table and will be seeking to hold sway as the formal announcement of Cathaoirleach and Leas-Cathaoirleach takes precedence on Friday afternoon.
To attain and maintain majority status within the Chamber walls for the duration of the forthcoming term of office, the party may look to form a partnership with the two Labour Party Councillors elected, Johnnie Penrose (Athlone-Moate District ) and Denis Leonard (Kinnegad District ) or the Green Party duo of Louise Heavin (Athlone-Moate District ) and Hazel Smyth (Mullingar District ), both of whom have been elected to serve the people of Westmeath for the initial time.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke of Fianna Fáil, who retained his seat with a strong showing of 1,314 first preference votes, noted that his political party had been in relevant discussions pertaining to the formation of a stable local authority with the forthcoming five year term of elected representative service imminent.
“Talks have been ongoing since last Monday with various groups and individuals. We also met with one of the relevant groupings on Tuesday night so it’s still very much ‘live’, but with no agreed partnership in place just yet. This is normal and it will go down to the wire as it always does. However, I am very confident that we will have a strong, stable arrangement in place for Friday and for the five year term ahead,” Cllr. O’Rourke emphasised.
Meanwhile, it is expected the first meeting of the newly formed Athlone-Moate Municipal District will take place on Monday, June 17, a decision also to be confirmed at the Westmeath County Council meeting on Friday.
Having attained four seats from a possible nine, Fianna Fáil are also in a strong political position as the elected representatives return to the Athlone Civic Centre Council Chamber surrounds following the recent local election results.