Fine Gael has managed to rescue one top post in local politics in Mayo following the major power shift brought about in the Local Elections at the end of May.
The new make-up of Mayo County Council, which had been dominated by Fine Gael for a decade, has seen an alliance of 10 Fianna Fáil county councillors with five Independents take control.
However, three Fine Gael representatives and Sinn Féin’s Cllr Gerry Murray teamed up in a surprise move in the new Claremorris Municipal District last week to stop the FF/Ind alliance making a clean sweep of the county.
They instead installed long-time Ballyhaunis representative John Cribben (FG ) as cathaoirleach - or chairperson - of the area.
Cllr Murray has been elected leas cathaoirleach in the area.
Cllr Cribben was nominated for the chairperson’s role by his party colleague, Tom Connolly, at the first meeting of the Claremorris Municipal District last Friday.
The third Fine Gael member in the district, Patsy O’Brien, seconded the nomination.
Fianna Fáil’s Councillor Damien Ryan nominated his newly elected party colleague, John Caulfield from Kilkelly, for the role, seconded by Independent Richard Finn.
But it was Cllr Cribben who won out on a vote of 4-3, thanks to the deciding vote cast by Cllr Murray.
The three Fine Gael councillors in turn supported Cllr Murray for the position of leas cathaoirleach (vice-chairperson ).
Cllr Cribben said he was delighted to be returned to the position.
He said the elected members are all “spokes on a bigger wheel” and their job now is to deal with the issues and problems raised on the doorsteps by the electorate.
He added that his main priority would be to facilitate cooperation between the seven elected members and the executive of Mayo County Council.
“Together, we can make this part of the country a better place,” he said.