Fianna Fail councillors have defended their decision to abstain on the vote to elect a new mayor, saying other groups failed to give them assurances about the future running of the council.
Sinn Fein councillor Mark Ward was elected as Mayor of South Dublin County Council by one vote, ahead of Cllr Vicki Casserly, with four Fianna Fail councillors abstaining.
Fine Gael councillors were critical of the abstentions, saying they facilitated the election of a Sinn Fein mayor.
Speaking after the vote, Fine Gael group leader on SDCC Emer Higgins said: “Today four FF councillors elected an SF Mayor in South Dublin County Council.
“Our candidate Cllr Vicki Casserly lost by one vote, while four Fianna Fail councillors abstained on the vote.
“The sole Green councillor, Cllr Francis Noel Duffy voted SF. I guess a vote for FF or the Greens is a vote for SF.”
Cllr Higgins thanked Cllr Trevor Gilligan (FF) who voted for Cllr Casserly and conveyed her best wishes to Mayor Ward during his term.
Cllr Casserly said she was disappointed with the outcome of the vote, but “honoured” to have been nominated.
She said: “We demonstrated our ability to work cross party with common goals and support my agenda of an Inclusive Accessible County where equality was to the forefront.
“Hugely disappointed to not have support from my friend and colleague, Fianna Fail Cllr Ed O’Brien and Cllr Charlie O’Connor, but we gave it our best and demonstrated democracy in action.
“Congratulations to Cllr Mark Ward and wish you well in the year ahead.”
In response to these comments, Cllr O’Brien said Fine Gael was playing politics with the position as they had failed to do what was necessary to ensure the election of Viki Casserly.
He said: “It’s disappointing to hear what I would class as disingenuous claims that we had facilitated Sinn Fein.
“We asked both groups to put proposals to us which we would consider and make a decision on as a group.
“Whilst we received such a proposal from Sinn Fein, it fell short of what we felt we could agree to, however Fine Gael refused pointedly to give us a proposal which left the group with no choice but to abstain.”
Cllr O’Brien added that Fianna Fail felt Fine Gael had not taken their request for a budget proposal seriously and had “instead concerned themselves with positions rather than policy”.
“The decision of the Fine Gael group not to put a proposal for a budget to us highlights a key difference between the groups,” he said.
“We were concerned to get assurances in relation to housing in particular and public realm issues such as grass cutting and tree pruning and footpath improvements.
“These are issues which we are challenged on by residents on a daily basis and, instead of making this a contest for one position, we wanted to ensure that we could deliver those services for the next 12 months.
“This was clearly highlighted as a red line issue for us and if Fine Gael are looking for someone to blame, they should look no further than themselves and their failure to give us those assurances.”
People Before Profit were critical of both groups, saying neither had properly addressed the housing crisis.
In a statement released following the vote, Cllrs Madeleine Johansson and Emma Hendrick said: “The Progressive Alliance which has been the ruling coalition in South Dublin County Council has, so far, failed to substantially address the housing crisis.
“Unfortunately there seems to be no difference in terms of actions if there is a centre-left Progressive Alliance Mayor or a right wing Fine Gael/Fianna Fail Mayor.
“We have been proactively looking for a new approach and a commitment to stop the selling off of public land.
“We would have voted for any progressive nominee willing to make such a commitment.
“Unfortunately no group or party made such a commitment and hence we put forward our own candidate for Mayor, Cllr Madeleine Johansson and for Deputy Mayor Cllr Mick Murphy (Solidarity).
“Our nominees were unsuccessful, but we will continue to campaign for and organise our local communities to demand public housing.”