IT could be March before Fianna Fail replaces Shane Clifford on the council, with Annacotty man Joe Pond in the running to take the seat.
City East councillor Shane Clifford resigned from the local authority for personal reasons just before Christmas, with his last day in office New Year’s Eve.
Since Mr Clifford was elected for Fianna Fail, it is his party which will ‘co-opt’ his successor onto Limerick City and County Council.
Should more than one candidate put their name forward – and sources have indicated this could be the case – the party be forced to hold a selection convention among its members in City East.
However, due to the impending general election, expected next month, it is believed the convention in City East will not take place until March – although there are hopes from some in the party it could happen sooner.
Mr Pond ran for Fianna Fail in City East in 2014, as the party’s fourth candidate, securing 455 first-preference votes.
As his party’s only candidate not to secure a seat in City East, plus the fact he lives in a similar geographical area to Mr Clifford of Castleconnell, Mr Pond feels he is in prime position to be co-opted.
He said: “I went before the electorate, and received a very substantial first preference vote. With me going, I felt I brought in the third Fianna Fail candidate to the council [Jerry O’Dea]. This is why I feel I would be the obvious choice to be co-opted.”
However, there have been indications that Mr Pond – a supporter of Willie O’Dea – may face competition from elsewhere within Fianna Fail. One source said: “Other people have expressed an interest. They may not have had the time before, but people’s circumstances change. They may not have gone forward before due to the presence of Shane Clifford.”
However, another party source said he would be “surprised” if Mr Pond was not co-opted to council.
For his part, Mr Pond said he was not aware of anyone else putting their name forward.
Mr O’Dea said: “The usual thing is if there is another candidate who did not make it, who was the last man standing, is he would automatically be the candidate. He [Mr Pond] is from the area, he has done a lot of work for the residents there, especially with the recent flooding.”
The former defence minister – who allegedly fought hard to keep Mr Clifford off the ticket in favour of his man – believes Mr Pond was added too late, saying: “If he was added sooner, I think he could possibly have gotten a seat”.
While Mr Clifford was selected at convention immediately, Mr Pond was a later addition to the ticket after an intervention from the City TD.