A little past 3pm on Monday, Dublin City Council’s Press Office put out a press release announcing that independent Councillor Anthony Flynn had been elected as the city’s first citizen.
Minutes later, the chains were taken back with a swift apology. “This was a test that was sent out in error, while drafts were being compiled on a number of different elected members,” said an email from the press office.
A few hours later that day, when councillors got together for a special meeting at City Hall to vote for a new lord mayor, it was, in the end, Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom Brabazon who had won backing for the position from most in the chamber.
Councillors had a choice of two candidates – Brabazon or Flynn – to replace former lord mayor Paul McAuliffe, of Fianna Fáil, who has just been elected to the Dáil.
Those who backed Flynn argued that the general election just past had signalled a vote for change, and appointing Flynn would be fitting recognition of a new politics.
Those who backed Brabazon said they were committed to keeping the Dublin Agreement on track – a programme agreed by the ruling coalition on the council, which involves Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Labour and the Social Democrats.
Part of the deal is that the position of lord mayor rotates between the parties. And at the moment, it’s Fianna Fáil’s turn.
It will be a short stint in the Mansion House. Brabazon will be in the post until 29 June.
In the Chamber
Fianna Fáil’s Deirdre Heney nominated Brabazon. She talked about how long they’ve been on the council, and worked for constituents in their wards and across Dublin.
Brabazon has a grá for the Irish language, and a huge interest in all things Irish and his Irish heritage, she said. “It’s what drives him as an individual.”
He’s also a GAA fan, dedicated to Dublin football and hurling, and enjoys any opportunity to go to the home patch of Parnell Park in Donnycarney – and even more when he gets to Croke Park to see the county teams play, said Heney.
He’s committed and hard-working, she said. “He understands the needs of the people in his community, he is of his community and works tirelessly for them.”
Claire O’Connor, also of Fianna Fáil, seconded the nomination, calling Brabazon “solution-based”, and pointing to his sense of humour, interest in people, and humility.
One of the main points of contention with Brabazon’s nomination was around his past opposition on gender quotas in the Northside People. In 2015, he argued that such quotas stifled male talent, and also implied that voters should pick “real women” whose experience included “childbirth” and “childcare”.
Heading off that criticism, Brabazon said at the meeting that he hadn’t meant at the time to say that people without children should be excluded from politics.
He has also since changed his views on quotas, he said. “I think they have been very helpful and very useful in bringing in women voters into politics.”
Meanwhile, independent Councillor Christy Burke put forward his fellow independent in the north inner-city, Anthony Flynn.
He’s worked alongside Flynn at Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), the charity which works with those who sleep rough in the city, said Burke.
Flynn has also given his life to the north-inner city, to sports clubs, youth facilities, and housing, said Burke. “A very very good committed individual, would make a fine lord mayor.”
Flynn’s nomination was seconded by independent Councillor Cieran Perry.
The preference wasn’t personal, said Perry, of his opposition to supporting Brabazon for the post.
But Brabazon represents a party tied to Fine Gael and the last national government, and the housing and health crises, Perry said.
“It’s a vote between old politics and the new politics of change,” he said.
Who Voted How
When the roll call came, Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, the Labour Party and the Social Democrats councillors all voted for Brabazon.
Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, People Before Profit, Independents 4 Change, and most independents backed Flynn.
The tally was 34 for the Brabazon, and 26 for Flynn.
At the same meeting, Fianna Fáil’s Rachael Batten was elected deputy lord mayor for the same period.
Five Dublin city councillors were elected to the Dáil in early February – and at the special meeting on Monday, political parties also rolled out who would replace them.
The “co-options” as they are known – when the parties choose somebody to fill a seat vacated by an election – were notable in part for their impact on the gender balance in the chamber. Four men and one woman were replaced by four women and one man.
The former lord mayor, Fianna Fáil’s Paul McAuliffe, was replaced in Ballymun-Finglas by Briege Mac Oscar, a law graduate from Trinity College Dublin, a student at King’s Inns, and a GAA player.
Sinn Féin replaced Chris Andrews in the South East Inner City with Daniel Céitinn, who has an academic background in political economy and public policy. “He has a particular interest in the inequality in access to education,” said Sinn Féin’s Séamas McGrattan, as he nominated Céitinn.
The Green Party, meanwhile, chose Carolyn Moore to fill a seat in Kimmage-Rathmines vacated by Patrick Costello.
Moore came to the Green Party through the Repeal campaign, and has been a journalist, worked in communications, and run a business, said Green Party Councillor Michael Pidgeon, as he put her forward for it.
In Cabra-Glasnevin, the Green Party’s Neasa Hourigan has been replaced by Darcy Lonergan. Lonergan has worked with Amnesty, and on sustainability issues with the Union of Students in Ireland, said Pidgeon.
The Social Democrats have opted to replace Gary Gannon with Cat O’Driscoll, for their seat in Cabra-Glasnevin.
O’Driscoll has been involved in the Dublin Central party branch, working on the Repeal and Marriage Equality referenda, and Union of Students in Ireland, among other places, said Social Democrats Councillor Tara Deacy, in her speech putting O’Driscoll forward.