A bitter pre-election row has blown up over the filling of a vacant seat on Portlaoise Town Council.
What should have been a rubber stamping excercise has spiralled into a sour dispute between Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
It has reached a point where one legal team were hovering and preparing for the High Court.
SF claims it was blocked by the FG/FF coalition from replacing Alan Hand on the council last week. SF say their barristers have warned that this breaches the Constitution and local Government laws.
The party’s legal team has written to county hall and it is understood that the county manager, Mr Peter Carey, has had to take legal advice.
Labelling the move a “polticial stunt” SF TD Brian Stanley warned that his party could go to court insisting FF/FG councillors had “blocked” Claire Spollen from taking the seat vacated by Mr Hand.
Apart from legal advice, Dep Stanley said he had raised the matter with Minister Phil Hogan’s Department .
However, FF and FG rejected the claims, although FF’s councillor Jerry Lodge publicly apologised to SF at last week’s council meeting for not supporting the replacement.
Cllr Willie Aird, FG Mayor, insisted that it was up to the two independent councillors, who were not at the meeting but who were allied to SF, to support Ms Spollen.
He said he offered Cllr Dwaine and Ms Spollen a special meeting within “three working days”. Asked was Ms Spollen blocked he said: “Nobody in FF or FG was prepared to support an SF nomination.”
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, FF, initially said there was little notice of the nomination.She later clarifed that SF should ask an independent councillor to back the new councillor.