Independent Calls for End of Non-Party

Independents or Non-Party? Cllr. Michael O'Brien and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan MEP
Independents or Non-Party? Cllr. Michael O’Brien and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan MEP

The term Non-Party according to the Cambridge online dictionary means not involving or related to a political party. However earlier this month, an Independent councillor strongly objected to the term, and called for it to be replaced by Independent on election ballot papers.

South Westmeath’s Cllr. Michael O’Brien told Athlone Municipal District that he introduces himself to people as an Independent and not as non-party.

“The word Independent should go alongside our name, and it will mean that legation needs to be introduced, so a letter should be sent from the municipal district to the Minister for the Environment,” said the Moate based councillor. “At a time when equality is a buzz word, I would ask for equality of members on the ballot paper, and to be given that equality.”

Independent, Cllr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said that he supported the motion, but that Deputy Finian McGrath was unsuccessful about getting the legislation changed in the Dail because of the party in power.

“From now on though, moving forward, non-party should be taken off the ballot paper, and I found that it is not law to have non-party on the ballot paper, so we can get it removed,” said Boxer.

Fianna Fail’s Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke moved the debate onwards by saying that he supported the motion, but would like to see written on the ballot paper – ‘Independent, formerly Fianna Fail’.

Boxer and O’Brien are both former Fianna Fail members.

“You might be Independent yourself, some day,” said O’Brien to O’Rourke.

However Boxer said he took offence with the O’Rourke remark and said that it was unfair, and that he fought for four years to get rid of the “stigma of having Fianna Fail on my name.”

“That is an awful remark, and I ask for it to be withdrawn, and I got a hell of a lot better vote than Cllr. O’Rourke got,” said Boxer.

There was no withdrawal coming, but the council members didn’t put an objection to the motion, so the request will go forward to the government.

Athlone FF/FG Alliance Elect former GAA Chairman as Mayor

Cllr. Tom Farrell (FG) was elected Mayor of the Athlone Municipal District for 2015/16 on Tuesday evening, showing the FF/FG alliance in the town, for its second year is still intact.  The new Mayor is a former Westmeath County Board GAA Chairman.

Mayor Farrell is part of the alliance which includes the new Deputy Mayor, Cllr. John Dolan, also of Fine Gael, and Fianna Fail’s Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke and Cllr. Frankie Keena.   Keena’s term as Mayor came to an end this week.   Dolan proposed Farrell, and O’Rourke seconded.  The Deputy Mayor was proposed by Keena while O’Rourke seconded.

Also on the seven member council team is Cllr. Paul Hogan of Sinn Fein and Independents, Cllr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Cllr. Michael O’Brien. However it’s unlikely that the last three will get a Mayoral post before 2019.

Each of the four in the FF/FG alliance will have a year as Mayor/Deputy Mayor, but there is still the 5th and final year of the council to be decided. It’ll be a year up for grabs, and only one of the four, who will already have been Mayor, can become Mayor in time for the Local Elections 2019.