Ross’s faction to go it alone

by Gazette Reporter

CONFUSION reigned in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council this week over the motivation behind the departure of three Shane Ross-aligned Independent councillors from the local authority’s main Independent group.
Council Independents are led by Cllr Victor Boyhan.
On April 20, however, Cllrs Deirdre Donnelly, Kevin Daly and Seamas O’Neill revealed that they were forming their own Independent sub-group within the council chamber, separate from the main Independent group.
Cllr Donnelly told The Gazette: “Victor was never a spokesperson for the Independents. We all did our own thing. From time to time, it would happen that one of us would vote one way on an issue and another would vote another.
“Basically, we want to be in a position where we can put somebody forward for committee places [among the three in the new Independent group].”
When asked about rumours contained in a tweet by Cllr Shane O’Brien (SF) that she was positioning herself for a Dun Laoghaire seat, Donnelly said: “I have no idea what Dun Laoghaire has to do with it, that’s quite interesting and I’ve no comment to make on it.”
O’Brien said this Independent split diminished effective opposition to Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in the council. “I think what’s driving it is a certain individual trying to raise her own profile before a General Election campaign in Dun Laoghaire.”
He said he thought Deputy Ross (Ind) wanted to run a candidate in Dun Laoghaire, and Donnelly was trying to position herself for that.
Cllr Michael Merrigan (Ind) said he was not surprised the three councillors had broken away from the Independents’ group: “It’s odd that Deputy Ross is on a crusade to unite Independents around the country, while simultaneously splitting the official Independents’ group in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown to secure his own seat in Dublin South and to possibly run a Shane Ross candidate in Dun Laoghaire.”
Ross referred to the speculation as “fantasy land” and said: “That’s complete and utter nonsense. It’s not up to me at all, to be honest [why the three have split], and I know nothing whatsoever about it, and it really isn’t up to me what they do in the Dun Laoghaire group.
“I have absolutely no act or part in what happened in the internal politics of DLRCC and I just don’t know what’s going on here. If they want to form a group of their own, that’s up to them. I’ve other things to do, quite honestly, than get involved in the day-to-day nonsense of this sort.”
He added: “If Deirdre Donnelly is running for Dun Laoghaire in the election, I have never heard a thing about it and I don’t think she is because I’m sure she’d have told me.”
Cllr Gerry Horkan (FF) said: “I don’t know what’s prompted this [split] or what difference it will make to the operational workings of the council.
“They were in opposition before and they’re still in opposition.”
Independents’ group leader Cllr Boyhan had no comment other than to wish the three well.

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