FINE Gael in Limerick is divided this week after two high-profile members walked out of a meeting to decide their mayoral candidate.
Cllr Pat Kennedy appears to be on the verge of quitting the party for a second time - and he could be followed by Cllr Cormac Hurley following a bad-tempered meeting at City Hall.
The partyâ€™s nine city councillors met on Monday to decide on their candidate to be the 817th mayor of Limerick.
They knew that due to a pact with the Labour party, their nominee is almost certain to take the chains at next Mondayâ€™s election.
After city east councillor Denis McCarthy secured the party nomination by five votes to four, Cllrs Kennedy and Hurley left the meeting in disgust.
Cllr Kennedy had been seeking a third term as mayor, and felt he had the support of at least five party colleagues.
But after he was edged out, the Limerick Leader understands he told party members he would â€œreconsider his
positionâ€ in the party.
Meanwhile, Cllr Hurley said he felt Cllr Kennedy had been â€œhard done byâ€ - and admitted he is â€œmore than a little bit upsetâ€ by the outcome.
One member present at the meeting, who did not wish to be identified, said after Cllr Kennedy realised he had lost, he â€œgot his briefcase, turned, and stared us all down, and said he was going to reconsider his position. Pat Kennedy then said to Cormac â€˜Iâ€™m off, and Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re going to do the sameâ€™.â€
It could be the second time in as many years Cllr Kennedy misses out on the mayoralty. Last year, Fine Gael formed a pact with Labour to pick current mayor Gerry McLoughlin as a â€˜compromise candidateâ€™ after some expressed concern at Cllr Kennedyâ€™s selection.
Despite the discord, party whip Cllr Jim Long expects Cllr McCarthy will still secure the mayoralty.
â€œFine Gael councillors will be expected to vote for the nominee. Fine Gael intend honouring their agreement with Labour, and I would expect Denis to have 12 votes,â€ he said.
Labour councillor Tom Shortt has confirmed his party will back Fine Gaelâ€™s selection, which will also see Cllr Long voted deputy mayor.
But Cllr Hurley said he had not yet decided how he would vote at the election:
â€œI have supported the party all my life, and I find it very hard to change. But there are few things that are happening that arenâ€™t making me too happy, both national and local,â€ he said.
Cllr Kennedy was not immediately available for comment.