Tension simmers between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as election looms in Limerick

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Tension simmers between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as election looms in Limerick

The local elections will take place in May

WITH the local elections only months away, a fresh row has broken out between the grand coalition partners of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

Fine Gael council leader Cllr John Sheahan says if his party did do a deal with Fianna Fail after the next election, they would ensure more “belts and braces” were placed upon it.

But Fianna Fail's leader, Cllr Michael Collins hit back, saying: "If he's trying to control us like Leo Varadkar is trying to control Fianna Fail nationally, that won't happen!"

At the start of the last council in 2014, the parties went into coalition for the first time locally, a move which saw them dominate the mayoralties and chairmanships throughout this council term, due to their unassailable combined vote.

But cracks have begun to appear in the relationship across the last year, with Fianna Fail relying on the support of Labour and Independent councillors to get the budget through due to Fine Gael's opposition.

Likewise, Fianna Fail opposed an increase in the local property tax, against the wishes of Fine Gael.

Asked if he sees the two parties going into coalition, Cllr Sheahan said some “gentleman's agreements” were in place which, he claimed Fianna Fail did not keep their word on.

“I would contend that we would have to put more belts and braces on an agreement if we were to do that next time around. It has worked fairly well on certain issues, but the Local Property Tax was one where we felt we had an agreement, but it was only a gentleman's agreement. Going forward for five years, I would be proposing that whatever arrangements be it with Fianna Fail or other parties, that the likes of the Commercial Rate, the likes of the Local Property Tax would be ironed out first so the people of Limerick city and county have a picture for the five years as to what the cost is for them."

Cllr Collins said Fianna Fail would “keep its options open" ahead of the outcome of any elections, with both parties seeking to make gains at County Hall after May's count.

“We will consider any and all permutations when they come. But over the last five years, we have worked fairly well with Fine Gael," he said.

When Cllr Sheahan's call for more "belts and braces" was put to him, he added: "If he's trying to control us like Leo Varadkar is trying to control Fianna Fail nationally, that won't happen locally. We're more resilient at local level!"

Limerick goes to the polls on May 24 next.