Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh stole independent councillor Christy Burke’s line as Dublin City Council gathered in its chamber earlier this month.
The council was there to bring on board – or “co-opt” – five city councillors newly appointed to take the places of five others who’d been elected to the Dáil.
“Christy Burke always says that when we’ve a co-option here this is the only round of applause you get, so get used to it,” Ni Dhalaigh said.
There’s still one seat on the council left vacant by a member who won election to the Dáil, but which her party has yet to fill.
In the election last month, two Fianna Fail councillors won places in the Dáil, leaving a pair of vacancies for the party to fill on Dublin City Council.
Jim O’Callaghan, who was elected in Dublin Bay South, has been replaced on the council by Clare O’Connor. A barrister — like O’Callaghan — and a former teacher, O’Connor has worked on education issues, and, in particular, on children’s rights.
Sean Haughey, who won in Dublin Bay North, has been replaced by Sean Paul Mahon. Mahon is no stranger to the council: he’s been a local representative on four earlier occasions. A community activist, Mahon is a close political ally of Haughey, and first replaced him on the council back in 2003.
Denise Mitchell, who got a seat from Dublin Bay North, is being replaced by Edel Moran. Sinn Fein councillor Larry O’Toole, who introduced her at the council meeting, called her a “practiced political activist”.
She has been a member of her local cumman for 15 years, and has been active in anti-water-charges campaigning.
Moran said on Tuesday that the housing crisis will be “completely top of my list”, and that she had decided to take up the position “as a normal person” who’s “talking for the normal, everyday people” from her area in Santry.
Two Fine Gael councillors have also moved on from City Hall.
Kate O’Connell was elected to represent Dublin Bay South in the Dáil, and Anne Feeney will replace her on the council. Feeney has been the constituency chair in the past, and was described by Fine Gael councillor Kieran Binchy as “efficient without being long-winded”.
Noel Rock was elected to the Dáil from the Dublin North-West constituency, and Norma Sammon has replaced him on the council. A barrister, Sammon says she plans to meet with local community groups to determine the key issues she will focus on, in addition to following on from Rock’s work on political reform.
Sammon said she intends, in a roundabout way, to continue with Rock’s policy of not claiming expenses. Instead of keeping them, she plans to set up a community fund into which her claimed expenses will be placed.
Five Seats Filled, One Still Vacant
Some of the more experienced councillors called for the new members to be educated in council matters and procedures. There should be some sort of in-depth training for them, said independent councillor Christy Burke.
“Now, I know the manager does a pretty good job,” he said, “but I really think that more than two hours in the manager’s office explaining how the system doesn’t work or does work needs to be extended.”
Of the six councillors elected to the Dáil, five have now been replaced on Dublin City Council. The only outlier: the People Before Profit Alliance still have to replace Brid Smith, who was elected for Dublin South-Central.
According to councillor Tina McVeigh of People Before Profit, there will an announcement on Wednesday to say who will replace Smith.
With no post-election government yet in place, it’s unclear what would happen if a second general election is called, and the councillors who won last time around failed to repeat their successes.
It would perhaps depend on the party members, and whether the latest batch of councillors would be willing to leave their new posts.
Otherwise, their council seats are safe until 2019.