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City council gutted as new deputies leave

A RAFT of new -- and unelected -- faces will take their place on Dublin City Council in the wake of the 2011 General Election.

In total, nine seats on the local authority are to be filled by new members.

The figure represents 17pc of the council, which has 52 members.

However, citizens will not get to vote on the changes as the replacements will be selected by party headquarters and co-opted on to the council.

The outgoing members -- who have been elected TDs -- include the Labour Party's Eric Byrne, Michael Conaghan, Kevin Humphreys, Aodhan O Riordain, John Lyons and Sean Kenny; People Before Profit's Joan Collins; Eoghan Murphy of Fine Gael; and Sinn Fein's Dessie Ellis.

Mr Conaghan told the Herald he had already received a call from Labour headquarters informing him of the process.

"It's a process whereby the party writes to the local membership and they ask for names to be submitted," he said.

Mr Conaghan, who was elected in the Dublin South Central constituency, added that the names will then be looked at by HQ and the new councillors will be chosen following an interview.

He admitted it might be time to change the system.

Underestimate

"That might be an idea in terms of reform of local government. It's an important position [being a councillor].

"Maybe the day has come when that should happen," Mr Conaghan added.

The role of councillors is something "people underestimate hugely".

"When you go to the front door, everything you see in front of you, all the general environmental stuff, is all local government," he said.

"They have a lot of influence," he told the Herald, adding that in the interests of "transparency and accountability" a change to the co-option process might be needed.

However, he said he "can't see it happening this time around".

While the biggest upheaval is to take place on Dublin City Council, the other three local authorities in the capital will also be losing elected members.

Clare Daly (SP) and Alan Farrell (FG), both Fingal county councillors, were successful in Dublin North, while Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown councillors Mary Mitchell O'Connor (FG) and Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP) were also elected to the Dail.

South Dublin county councillors Derek Keating (FG), Robert Dowds (Lab), Eamonn Moloney (Lab) and Sean Crowe (SF) will equally be taking their place in Leinster House on March 9 as well.

The end of the dual mandate meant that TDs could no longer simultaneously hold council seats as well as as being elected to the Dail.

comurphy@herald.ie