ON Friday (June 7) the latest – and probably the most diverse – iteration of Kildare County Council met for the first time and whistled through formalities with an ease seldom seen in Irish politics.
Of the 40 members from the eight electoral areas 40 per cent (16) are women, almost half (18) are first-time councillors, and they range in age from 23 (Evie Sammon) to 80 (Seamie Moore).
Although, Cllr Sammon wasn’t technically the youngest attendee.
That honour went to the impeccably well-behaved infant Éabha Galvin, whose mother – newcomer Cllr Ciara Galvin (Lab) – was stuck at the last minute without a babysitter, and nobody batted an eyelid.
Maura McIvor for the Executive went through the formality of welcoming each councillor to the Chamber, making the only faux pas of the day when she forgot the five councillors from Maynooth, before rescuing the moment after a quick reminder from the floor.
Outgoing chair Cllr Robert Power – who accepted the position from Naas but resigned it from Newbridge – handed it graciously over to Cllr Suzanne Doyle in what was to be the first in a very busy afternoon of appointments, but not before he mentioned the recent passing of Michael McWey – “a great man for Kildare”.
Muhammad Ali once famously said how all his fights were won a long way away from the bright lights, and so it was also as the newly minted members of Kildare County Council demonstrated how all the horse trading and jockeying for committee seats was done behind the scenes prior to the meeting in scenes of collegiality and agreement not seen by this reporter in his 25 years in the trade.
“It’s all downhill from here,” a press box colleague noted sagely as members were allocated to an incredible 34 committees, groups, forums and bodies, without any argument.
In fact, the only fly in any ointment was the failure of its long-time nemesis – Cllr Fiona McLoughlin-Healy – in getting herself nominated to the board of the Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board.
It was a moment of uncomfortable silence in the Chamber as no other hand supported hers proving the curse of the whistleblower once again.
The chairs of the five Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) were carved amongst the parties, With Ivan Keatley and Joe Neville of Fine Gael taking Planning and Transport respectively, the Green’s Vincent P. Martin getting Environment, and Labour’s Mark Wall and Aoife Breslin taking Housing and Community respectively.
Each of these five chairpersons then in turn read out their respective seven committee members – details of which can be found on the Council’s website under ‘Corporate Services’.
The only positions not filled were to the Corporate Policy Group and Protocol committee because they are appointed from Municipal Districts which only start meeting tomorrow (June 12).
The next meeting of the full council was set for Monday, June 24 ar 2pm.