Fianna Fail considered supporting Mulligan or McNamara for Mayor

Seamus Duke & Paul Healy  Fianna Fail councillors gave serious consideration to proposing Sinn Fein Councillor Michael Mulligan and/or HAC Councillor Paula McNamara for the position of Mayor last Monday – in what was an audacious bid to deny Fine Gael’s Michael McGreal the coveted ‘chair.’    Fianna Fail councillors met in the Abbey Hotel on Monday morning where the prospect of supporting Sinn Fein’s Michael Mulligan or the HAC’s Paula McNamara was discussed.    The ‘Michael Mulligan plan’ is thought to have come very close to providing a sensational turn of events on the day.    The People understands that the Fianna Fail councillors made an offer to Councillor Mulligan to go forward (with Fianna Fail support) for the position of Mayor. However the unlikely alliance needed the support of the two HAC councillors and, unluckily for Councillor Mulligan, they had already given their word to Fine Gael that they were going to abstain on the vote for Mayor.    There were claims this week that if the HAC councillors had been aware that Cllr. Mulligan was to be a candidate, they may well have supported him and Cllr. Mulligan might then have had enough support to become the new mayor, which would very definitely have been a surprise outcome. It certainly would have put pressure on the outgoing Mayor, Cllr. John Kelly (a Ballaghaderreen electoral area colleague of Cllr. Mulligan’s) in relation to how he would have voted, notwithstanding his support on previous occasions for Fine Gael/Independent nominees.    At their private meeting prior to the Council AGM, Fianna Fail councillors also discussed supporting Cllr. Paula McNamara of the HAC.    Cllr. McNamara this week told the Roscommon People that she had not received any approach on the matter. She added that she and her HAC colleague Cllr. Valerie Byrne would have discussed any such offer but would not have supported Fianna Fail’s nominee, Cllr. Eugene Murphy, or any Fianna Fail nominee. How could we support Fianna Fail when they are closing the Hospital?’ the HAC’s Cllr. McNamara asked this week.    Fianna Fail’s creative approach was based on the knowledge that their own likely (and subsequent) nominee Cllr. Eugene Murphy, could not defeat Cllr. McGreal.    A campaign had been waged to enlist HAC support for Cllr. Murphy – but it had failed.  Murphy could count on the support of all nine Fianna Fail councillors and that of Cllr. Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and (possibly) Sinn Fein’s Michael Mulligan. That was eleven votes at best -Cllr. McGreal, the Fine Gael nominee, had lost the support of Cllr. Luke Flanagan but could still count on ten Fine Gael councillors and Independents Tom Crosby, John Kelly and Tony Ward (13 votes).    Fianna Fail turned its attention to supporting Cllr. Mulligan or Cllr. McNamara for the role. Either candidacy, if it got off the ground, had the potential of the alternative candidate cobbling together at least thirteen votes, i.e. nine Fianna Fail, two HAC, Sinn Fein and Cllr. Flanagan.    The plan to support a HAC candidate never got off the ground however – it had strong support amongst Fianna Fail councillors, but it did not have unanimous support.    The ‘Michael Mulligan plan’ floundered because the HAC councillors wouldn’t support it. Fianna Fail sources this week suggested that Cllrs. Valerie Byrne and Paula McNamara will be receiving high profile committee positions in return for their abstention on the Mayor vote; Cllr. McNamara told the People: ‘We just abstained – we’ve often abstained in the past, we’re not in a pact and not aligned to either side.’