Boxer issues scathing attack on FF/Green 'naked power grab'

Former Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran has launched a scathing attack on the Fianna Fail/Green Party members of Westmeath County Council after he was defeated in a vote to replace his son, Jamie Moran, on the council

The former Longford/Westmeath TD said that his blocked by “the naked ambition and power grab for an independent seat by a Government-driven combination of Fianna Fail/Greens” whom he accused of being “hellbent on serving their own political interests ahead of the people’s own voting wishes as expressed in the local elections in 2019”.

In a lengthy statement in the aftermath of today's vote in which Paul Hogan was co-opted by 12 votes to 6, he said “long-standing co-option traditions and precedent” were completely ignored at this afternoon’s meeting of Westmeath County Council.

“I allowed my name to go forward, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Jamie Moran, following this afternoon’s co-option meeting. as I genuinely believe, given my experience at both local and national politics, that I can make a positive contribution at council level for the benefit of the people of the Athlone-Moate Municipal electoral area.

“I think most people would agree that I have a excellent record of delivering for the south of the county, across all political divides, over a 20 year period. It has always been my driver in politics, to try and help people solve everyday problems without getting bogged down in ideology or political divisions.”

However, he said from the moment he was nominated to fill the vacancy, it was made clear to him that Fianna Fail were “determined to block my return to the council”.

Highlighting that the three sitting TDs for Westmeath are based in Mullingar, he said: “I fear greatly that Athlone, Moate and Kilbeggan are losing out in terms of jobs and investment while other towns in the region are forging ahead.”

He said Fianna Fail and the Greens due to their numerical dominance were able to “throw well-established precedent and procedure for the filling of independent seats on the scrapheap and put in their own favoured nominee onto the Council.”

During the meeting CEO Pat Gallagher repeatedly told members that the process was governed by the Section 19 of the Local Government Act, 2001, as amended, and their own Standing Order 15, that is the council's own procedure. For non-party candidates, this provides for the council filling the vacancy by anyone they deem suitable and eligible for the vacancy.

However, Boxer argued that there had been a long-standing and well-established procedure for filling independent seats on the council which had been ignored.

He added: “The question of whether this is the right thing for the electorate of this area will be answered in due course”

Citing his view that it was very important that Westmeath has a vibrant and effective council chamber he said Westmeath County Council must play its part in the Government’s 2040 ambition to grow Athlone into a city, to the benefit of the entire Midland region. He said this was something that he had passionately fought for as part of the 2016-2020 government.

He went on to thank the members of Westmeath County Council who supported him in today’s co-option and the voiced his appreciation for the “massive goodwill and encouragement” that he said he had received from the public when they learned of my intention to return to public life as a councillor.

“Unfortunately that door has been closed to me for now by the naked power grab of Fianna Fail and the Greens … I remain willing as always to serve the people, as I have done so since I was first elected to public office in 1999.”

He also wished Cllr Paul Hogan every success for the remainder of the council term.