Wednesday, June 05, 2019
  • Labour, Sinn Fein, Greens and Independents call for D’Hondt Mayor

THE d’Hondt system is the fairest and most inclusive method of selecting the Plenary and Metropolitan Mayors for Waterford for the next five years, according to the Independent group of councillors on the newly formed Waterford Council.

Independents, Labour, the Greens and Sinn Féin are singing off the same hymn sheet in advocating the d’Hondt system, which allocates positions on various bodies based on the number of seats each grouping, or party won in an election.

According to Cllr Joe Kelly, representing the Independents group, the old pact system of “excluding others who have a democratic mandate just as strong as any other councillor is old hat politics and needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history”.

Cllr Kelly, current Metropolitan Mayor, said, “Now that the people have rejected the proposal to choose directly elected Mayors it is incumbent on the newly elected councillors to be very inclusive and transparent in the selection of Mayors. The d’Hondt system has proven very successful for the last five years in the Metropolitan area and is used all over the world.”

Cllr Kelly pointed out that the makeup of the new council has changed significantly from the outgoing one with Labour having won four seats, the Greens two seats, Independents six seats, FF seven seats, Sinn Fein six seats and Fine Gael seven seats.

“I believe the people of Waterford City and County would welcome this new fairer system of electing Mayors and that it’s now time for cooperation across all parties and councillors right from the very start of the new council,” he said.

Cllr Seamus Ryan said his party, Labour, along with Green councillors had a very positive meeting on Thursday night last. “We decided on the formation of a technical group with a view to working together on the new council. A key aim for both parties is achieving fair and equitable d’Hondt style proportional representation on the new council to respect the mandates given to all councillors by all voters.”

He added that they are calling on the parties to work together to share the responsibilities of local government entrusted to them in a “fair and mature manner”.

Councillor Marc O Cathasaigh stated, “The Green Party is committed to the principle of participative politics. Given the numbers returned for the new council, we believe the d’Hondt system, or a version thereof, will best reflect the mandates given to each of the parties and independents by the electorate.”

Meanwhile, Independent Joe Conway said the formula is simple. “You just pick the five highest vote-getters, relative to quota. That would indicate that the five Mayors for the next five years would be, in order of popular endorsement – Councillors Matt Shanahan, Damien Geoghegan, John Pratt, Seanie Power and Liam Brazil. But, from past experience, such a scenario is unlikely to unfold.

Sinn Féin also reiterated its call for a d’Hondt system to be implemented.

“Sinn Féin have proposed d’Hondt previously and are on record as supporting it for Waterford Council. We reaffirm that position now in light of the joint statement issued by Labour and the Greens. We welcome their intervention, and call on other parties to follow suit,” a statement said.

On the other side of the Chamber, it is understood that some from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael feel that the proposal of the system is in essence a façade and that the other parties and independents have already formed a pact of 18 councillors.

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By Claire Quinn
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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