Donegal County Council’s stalled budget meeting resumes this morning

Donegal County Council's stalled budget meeting resumes today, with no signs yet of a resolution. Today is the government's deadline for a decision, with fears that failure to agree a budget will lead to Environment Minister Phil Hogan by-passing the council, and appointing a commissioner to run the county.

Before Christmas, the draft budget was rejected.

What happens when members enter the chamber today could determine the immediate future of Donegal County Council.

Sinn Fein and a number of independents have indicated they will continue to oppose the budget, leaving the focus on Fianna Fail.

If they vote yes or abstain, that should allow the budget go through. If they continue to oppose, then the way forward is unclear. We understand Manager Seamus Neely and senior officials have been burning the midnight oil in a bid to identify more discretionary funds that can be used on local road projects, but it's difficult to see how they can come close to the million euro Fianna Fail says is necessary.

If agreement can't be reached today, Minister Phil Hogan may be asked for an extension, but that's by no means guaranteed, with some members suggesting he might use Donegal as an example. The other question is if sufficient money can't be found to bridge the gap today, where can it be found next week or next month?.

An increase in central government funding seems the only guaranteed way to resolve this impasse, but such a move seems highly unlikely to say the least. Unless a resolution can be found today, Donegal County Council may be heading for a period of administration, and could bring the council, and the county, into uncharted waters.