Lawlor elected as Sinn Féin's Forde and Independent Hynes leave in protest over pact
Labour councillor George Lawlor was elected Mayor of Wexford and his party colleague Maura Bell took the Deputy Mayor's chains at an annual meeting that saw Sinn Fein's Tom Forde and Independent David Hynes walk out before the vote in protest at a political pact.
Before dramatically absenting himself from the election in Wexford Arts Centre, Cllr. Forde congratulated Cllr. Lawlor in advance and said he had great respect for the democratic process but the pact system was outdated.
The Sinn Fein councillor said he wanted to do the best he could for the people of Wexford. The language of the Council was all about inclusiveness and working together and excluding certain parties and individuals as the pact did, went directly against this and cast a shadow over the democratic system.
He said he respected the mandate of every councillor who was elected but he wasn't elected to attend meetings where there are 'predetermined outcomes'. He wanted to attend meetings where there is 'real dialogue and real debate'.
Cllr. Forde said he had heard whispers of financial arrangements having been made in relation to pacts and positions on offer.
He wished Cllr. Lawlor well and said he hoped he served his term with 'honesty, transparency and respect'.
Afterwards, Cllr. Forde said he made a decision to leave the meeting rather than abstain from the vote 'because the person getting elected as Mayor was the person who sought to exclude Sinn Féin and specifically me from the process'.
He said that during his past 18 months on the Council, he had worked with all parties and he would continue to do that as much as he could.
'I will work with anyone but I am also going to call people out', he said.
In relation to the rumours about financial exchanges, he said he didn't take any joy in highlightint them but he felt he had a duty to report them.
Cllr. David Hynes who also walked out before the vote, said he was asked to go into a 'left of centre' pact, which would have included the two Labour councillors, Leonard Kelly and himself but he refused on the grounds that it was limited to four people, even though it is a five-year term.
He said he suggested asking Sinn Fein to take part but that was rejected.
'Everyone of us, including Sinn Féin, has a right to be here', said Cllr. Hynes. 'I disagree with this pact. It's naked opportunism, taking advantage of the fact that in a seven-seat scenario you only need four votes to take the lions share of the mayoralty'', he said. At a meeting of the last District Council, Cllr. Hynes called for the first five councillors past the post in the election, to be allocated the position of Mayor.