Barring any eleventh hour hitch, John Halligan will be elected Mayor of Waterford next Monday night under the terms of a pact between Fine Gael, Labour and four of the City Council’s five Independents, Dick Roche being the exception. Davy Daniels will be Deputy Mayor.
Mary Roche will take over next year, with Seamus Ryan as Deputy Mayor and during the remaining three years of the new Council’s five year term, Fine Gael (4 seats) will claim the office twice and Labour (3) once.
That has been the outcome of intense negotiations between the eleven councillors involved over recent days.
Cllr Halligan (54), long time Workers Party member until quitting last year over policy issues, would be seen generally as hugely deserving of the honour, given his record of hard work and courageous outspokenness as a politician of high integrity over the last 10 years. The level of public support behind him is reflected in the fact that he comfortably topped the poll with 1,430 votes in last Friday’s City Council elections. He is a father of three daughters and has one grand-child.
If there was to be a general election in the short to medium term – and that would surprise nobody – the Mayoralty would certainly boost Cllr Halligan’s chances of gaining a Dail seat if he should choose to seek one for a third time.
He came up short as a WP candidate in 2002 and 2007.
First time councillor Dick Roche was not surprised by his omission from the talks by the other four Independents. But he is at pains to stress that he would not be a party to them in any event. At the same time, he said, despite his reputation as a left wing activist he will approach council matters in a very positive frame of mind.
“There will be fear among some people that I will have a negative outlook but that is not the case, although I will not sacrifice any of my long held principles”, he commented.
He claimed to have no knowledge of any Mayoral arrangement having been made but did express the hope that John Halligan would not get involved in any pact, having opposed such agreements down the years. “Any such change of heart would add to the cynicism that’s out there”, he remarked.
Despite that, he accepted that Cllr Halligan would be a totally deserving Mayor on account of his track record and the fact that he got more votes than any other member.
He said he had long advocated that the Mayor should be elected by the people, with the top five in the polls getting the honour through the lifetime of the Council. Democracy and fairness should dictate that the next five in line would serve as Deputy Mayor with other posts such the chair of important committees going to the remaining five.
Gone to ground
Repeated efforts yesterday to make contact with Cllr Halligan failed, but the fact that he appears to have gone to ground is no doubt significant in itself as the pact group would be anxious to retain their “secret” until as close as possible to Monday night.