ACCUSATION Cllr Peter Flynn.
FIANNA Fáil and their Independent allies are more interested in ‘cash and chains’ than progressive politics, according to Fine Gael councillor Peter Flynn.
The local elections resulted in Fine Gael winning 12 seats, one ahead of Fianna Fáil but they failed to secure a majority after Fianna Fáil and five Independent councillors agreed a voting pact.
The voting pact resulted in Fianna Fáil councillor Brendan Mulroy being elected Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council and his party colleague Al McDonnell being elected as Leas-Cathaoirleach at last Friday’s annual meeting.
Fine Gael had secured the support of Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray and Independent John O’Malley and believed they had also secured the support of Independent councillor, Seamus Weir, but he decided to back Fianna Fáil.
As a result of the voting pact, the prominent positions in Mayo County Council for the next five years will be occupied by Fianna Fáil or Independent councillors. They also secured the Chair of four of the six Strategic Policy Committees which come with a tax-free annual allowance of €6,000.
Cllr Flynn said Fine Gael entered negotiations hoping to bring reform to the council but claimed Fianna Fáil and the Independents were more interested in ‘cash and chains’.
“We went into negotiations on the basis that we were looking for change and inclusivity and a progressive council and we will look for reform. That was the message we got from the doorstep.
“In any negotiations we were involved in, policy comes on the table, budgets come on the table and organisational change comes on the table. We had documents signed off from Independent councillors and there was no mention of policy or budgets or structure, it was all about chains and cash. From all I can see from these documents, it is based on cash and chains which is regrettable,” he said.
Fine Gael whip Jarlath Munnelly added that their party wanted to form a ‘progressive group’ on Mayo County Council which was committed to making changes and was disappointed that was not happening.
Fianna Fáil’s Damien Ryan accused Fine Gael of ‘playing politics’ and described claims that the voting pact was about jobs as ‘nonsense’.
As part of the Fianna Fáil and Independent pact, the role of Cathoirleach of Mayo County Council will be divided between them with two Independents and three Fianna Fáil councillors to take the role over the next five years.
Independent councillor Richard Finn who is part of the Independent group denied that he was in the council for ‘cash and chains’.
“I am one of two councillors who came in here 28 years ago and we were not paid to be here. We were here because we were elected by the people and we wanted to be here. Any mention of this being about chains or money … I don’t want to hear anymore of that type of talk,” he said.