Tension will be high at tomorrow’s (Friday’s ) inaugural meeting of Galway City Council after a weekend of drama which saw a grouping of Independents, Greens, and Labour combine to thwart plans by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to take control of the council.
With five Fianna Fail councillors and three Fine Gael councillors elected in last week’s City Council elections, it was expected that this grouping together with a handful of others would be sufficient to seize control of the 18-seat council for the next five years.
With Galway 2020 just six months away and a General Election looming, determining who would become Mayor and when, was a prize that all of the major parties wanted to control. It was believed that FF Cllr Ollie Crowe or his colleague Peter Keane would have taken the chain in the first year — offering great profile for the office holder.
However, that is now all up in the air and it is believed that Ind Cllr Mike Cubbard will take the chain — timely too given that he will be a candidate in the forthcoming General Election.
The FF/FG alliance believed that they had sufficient numbers to gain this majority, but matters took a twist last weekend when several councillors who had allegedly signed a document to join with FF/FG, decided to walk away from the deal and join up with the remaining Green, Soc Dem, Labour and Ind councillors.
Legal advice was sought with the prevailing opinion deciding that none of the documents was legally binding.
The about-turn has left the major parties red-faced and has led to criticism of the manner in which negotiations were undertaken.
One source close to the negotiations said that they did not like the manner in which they were regarded by the larger parties.
“We weren’t offered anything, instead we were told what we would not get, that we could like it or lump it. There didn’t seem to be any manner of compromise or negotiation. So when the opportunity arose to put together a rainbow coalition of all the smaller parties and Independents, it didn’t take me a second to make up my mind. This is new politics.
“I felt there was a certain misplaced confidence there, not just with the negotiations but with the manner in which some councillors celebrated their election at the count centre before any announcements were made. We had been faced with more years of the same old, same old, but this changes everything,” the source said, adding that the development is bound to lead to tension and disagreement at the meetings.