CLLRS Michael Collins and James Collins have been stripped of the two leadership positions in Fianna Fail in Limerick following the intervention of party headquarters.
The Limerick Chronicle has learnt that Fianna Fail’s top brass has ordered the internal leadership contest in the party to be re-run after four members quit in anger over the selection of Cllrs Michael Collins and James Collins as the party’s leader and deputy leader respectively.
Cllrs Kieran O’Hanlon, Joe Crowley, Eddie Ryan and Kevin Sheahan stormed out of the meeting, with a consensus they would form their own ‘Independent Fianna Fail’ bloc on the council.
Cllr Ryan was seeking to be leader of the overall Fianna Fail bloc, with Cllr O’Hanlon his deputy.
Galbally councillor Ryan was also left unhappy that the group - who with 13 members is the council’s largest - allegedly met council manager Conn Murray without his knowledge.
Now, it looks like the pair are back in the running for these positions, after party general secretary Sean Dorgan met the two groups on Friday evening to bring about a peaceful settlement.
A brief statement issued by the party stated: “The disagreement involving Fianna Fáil councillors elected to Limerick City and County Council last week has been resolved”.
It added: “Fianna Fáil would like to thank all the councillors for the constructive and positive approach taken during the discussions.”
A well-placed source within the party said the election of the leader will be held after Fianna Fail had secured an agreement with another party to provide a control on the council.
Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon will join Cllrs Michael and James Collins, and newly elected Shane Clifford at the negotiating table.
Although an alliance with Fine Gael looks a likely option, it is understood that some Fianna Fail members would be uneasy with this, given the way in which they were frozen out of key positions over the last decade, particularly in the city.
Discussions took place with Sinn Fein this Monday over a deal, while Fianna Fail will also enter dialogue with the three Labour members, and the Independent members later in the week.
Initial meetings have already taken place with Fine Gael, and these will be followed up later in the week.
The first council meeting is Friday.