County Council pact in jeopardy as budget recriminations continue

The future of the inter-party pact on Donegal County Council is under threat. It follows the adoption of the council's budget budget by Fianna Fail when the other 19 members were not in the chamber.

The meeting had adjourned to allow for discussions on how a reduction in the rate could be achieved, with the county manager outlining to members how a 3% reduction might be realised. When the meeting reconvened, only the Fianna Fail members were present, but they had a quorum, and adopted the budget.

However, as this was happening, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein, Labour and the Independents were meeting in a bid to secure a bigger decrease.

Fine Gael whip Terence Slowey says they were on the verge of securing agreement on a substantial rates cut, and the business community in Donegal is the real loser.

The 19 members who were not in the chamber are planning to meet in early January to decide their next step, with a vote of no confidence in the chair one of the tactics being considered.

Both Sinn Fein and Labour are involved in a pact with Fianna Fail to determine who takes the mayoral chain each year, but it's future is now in grave doubt.

Sinn Fein whip Cllr Padraig Mac Lochlainn acknowledges that the pact does not cover the budget, but says the way in which Fianna Fail acted last evening was a disgrace.