Meetings were under way last evening as both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil attempted to secure a majority grouping on the Galway County Council ahead of the local authority’s annual meeting tomorrow.
With the county council due to elect its new mayor, deputy mayor, and various committee and public body members at the meeting, there is little indication as to who exactly will hold the balance of power on the council by Friday afternoon.
In the local elections Fine Gael saw its representation on the council increase from 10 seats to 13, and as the party secured a successful technical coalition with members of Labour, Sinn Féin, and a number of independents in the last council, the party is seen as the most likely one to secure a deal for a working majority this time around.
However Fianna Fáil — which suffered a net loss of three seats in the recent poll, bringing its total to seven — is understood to also be in discussions with independents and smaller parties in a bid to secure the majority.
Sixteen is the magic number any party or grouping must have in order to control the local authority, guaranteeing it a majority when voting on the mayoralty, nomination to committees and public bodies, and other votes taken by the 30-member council.
The last council saw Fine Gael, which held 10 seats, work with several other councillors in a ruling technical coalition. However the party had to offer compromises in order to secure the co-operation of its partners — most noticeably there were two FG mayors, along with three Independent mayors during the five-year term. With 13 seats on the new council Fine Gael is expected to be offering less this time around, which could prove a sticking point in wooing potential kingmakers.
Fianna Fáil is likely to secure the support of Independent former PD members Cllr Jim Cuddy and Cllr Tom Welby, but this leaves the group in need of the support of seven other members in order to secure the coveted group of 16.
The Galway Advertiser understands that the main parties have no plans to enter into a power sharing agreement with each other, though this would give them a combined majority of 17 seats.