Council clash over presidential nomination

The presidential election may be months away but a motion seeking to support a nomination for Independent hopeful, Sean Gallagher, still led to heated clashes at Monday’s Council meeting in Newtownmanor.

The presidential election may be months away but a motion seeking to support a nomination for Independent hopeful, Sean Gallagher, still led to heated clashes at Monday’s Council meeting in Newtownmanor.

By Leonie McKiernan

Cathaoirleach, Cllr Frank Dolan was forced to call for order on a number of occasions as discussions on the motion, put forward by Independent councillor, Enda Stenson, descended into an all out shouting match across the chamber.

Cllr Enda Stenson had proposed that Leitrim County Council nominate Cavan man, Sean Gallagher to contest the Presidential Election subject to the normal ratification process after the presidential election order was made.

However Cllr John McCartin immediately objected stating that, while he did not begrudge Mr Gallagher his chance, he believed Mr Gallagher had strong Fianna Fail connections and he felt it was “disingenuous” for him to run now as an Independent.

Despite his comments Cllr Stenson’s motion was proposed and seconded in quick order but the members then fell into a heated argument as Fine Gael’s Gerry Reynolds pointed out it would be “premature” to make any decision on a nomination until the order of election is given by the minister. He added that there were other candidates who had written to the Council for consideration and it would be unfair to support Mr Gallagher without giving them the chance to address the members.

Fianna Fail’s Councillor, Mary Bohan hit back stating that the motion had been proposed and seconded and should be dealt with.

County Manager, Jackie Maguire acknowledged that two other possible candidates, Senators David Norris and Mary White, were going to address the Council in July.

“You can’t pass a resolution on this nomination until the order for election is forthcoming and that won’t be until September this year,” she added.

However Cllr Stenson said he was looking for a statement of intent to support Gallagher’s nomination - “the nomination can be finalised when the order of election is made,” he argued, adding that others seeking presidential nominations would still be free to address the Council.

However Fine Gael’s members argued that no nomination could be supported or ratified until everyone had the opportunity to address the Council in July.

Cllr Martin Kenny said he supported the right of everyone to run for President and he criticised Fine Gael for refusing to support Mr Gallagher because he previously had links to Fianna Fail.

“He’s running as an Independent and people are more than their past,” he argued. “I think the real issue here is clear, Fine Gael are not prepared to vote for anyone other than their own candidate.”

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.