A former junior minister has been selected to replace Youghal based Aaron O’Sullivan on Cork County Council.
Michael Ahern was chosen at a Fianna Fail convention held in the Midleton Park Hotel on Monday (9 April) as successor to young O’Sullivan, who stepped down from local politics last November.
The 30-year-old cited work commitments as his main reason for leaving. Mr O’Sullivan said it was increasingly difficult to hold down a full-time job as a solicitor and work as a public representative.
The Youghal man told delegates who gathered to elect his successor that he had made the decision with some regret adding “it has been an honour and a pleasure to have been elected to Cork County council and serve the Fianna Fail party and East Cork.”
He urged the new incumbent to “give as much energy to Youghal and Killeagh as they will to Castlemartyr and Midleton.”
48 members had voting rights, with 38 turning out on the night, to make their selection from three candidates, lecturer Rosarii Griffin, former Midleton Mayor Niall O’Neil and former junior Minister Michael Ahern.
Waterford TD Mary Butler, Cork East Og member Colm O’Connor and regional organiser Colm Leahy presided over proceedings.
A senior source within the Fianna Fail organisation said it was important a replacement for O’Sullivan was found now, as the party needed all its seats, if Charleville based Ian Doyle was to have a shot at being county Mayor this year.
Michael Ahern narrowly won the party’s selection convention defeating Niall O’Neil.
Ahern was ahead of O’Neill by 16 votes to 13 after the first count but after Ms Griffin’s transfers were distributed Mr Ahern was announced the winner by a short majority of 20 to 18.
A triumphant Mr Ahern, said he aims to renew enthusiasm among the base and grow the party in Cork East.
The Cllr elect in an effort to align delegates said a party divided is a party defeated. A sentiment echoed by the East Cork executive.
They urged both Niall O’Neill and Rosarii Griffin to “be loyal and stay with the ship.”
Commenting on Mr Ahern’s election the executive said “The people that stayed with the ship they’re the people that succeed at the end of the day.”
Mr Ahern in his victory speech said the entire organisation needs a root and branch review and a leadership that will listen to its members.
The Carrigtwohill man said at present “people are not being listened to outside of Dublin”, pointing the finger at Party leader Michael Martin and those in headquarters.
He said if the party is to grow it needs to take on the views of the grassroots.
First timer Rosarii Griffin said while she did not get selected on this occasion the process hasn’t put her off seeking a nomination for the local elections next year.
It is possible Michael Ahern may not be selected to contest the 2019 council election for Fianna Fail, the party will make that decision after the local election area boundaries will be decided.
The Local Government and Electoral Reform commission are expected to make their recommendations in the next two months.
Niall O’Neill said the Fianna Fail party was destined to fail if it cannot attract young people.
“A lot of the social issues that we read about on the paper are among young people today and we need to find representatives that can connect with those nationwide.”