A motion of no confidence in County Manager Eddie Sheehy was defeated yesterday at a special sitting of Wicklow County Council.
Mr Sheehy survived the motion by 14 votes to 7.
Sinn Fein councillors John Brady and John Snell voted for no confidence in the County Manager, Barry Nevin and Tom Fortune Independents Barry Nevin, Tom Fortune, Tommy Cullen and Nicky Kelly also voted no confidence in Mr Sheehy, but the surprise vote on the night was Fine Gael’s Irene Winters who broke ranks to support the motion.
The councillors that supported the County Manager were John Ryan, Mick Glynn, Christopher Fox, Pat Vance, Derek Mitchell, Sylvester Bourke, Vincent Blake, Grainne McLoughlin, Pat Casey, Pat Doran, Edward Timmins, Jim Ruttle, Pat Fitzgerald and George Jones.
County council chairman Jimmy O’Shaughnessy abstained in the confidence vote.
Speaking after the meeting Councillor John Brady said, “Unfortunately it was proven yesterday that the majority of councillors in Wicklow have no backbones.
“Brian and Mark died under his [Mr Sheehy’s] watch and it’s us the taxpayer that gets the slap on the wrist. The motion of no confidence was an attempt to install some level of accountability.
“The old boys club of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil circled their wagons around the manager Eddie Sheehy to protect him… However not one of the fourteen councillors who voted to support him could give a single reason why they have any confidence in him.”
This is the second motion in as many weeks that the County Manager has survived. Last week a motion tabled at Wicklow Town Council by Cllr Pat Kavanagh calling for the immediate sacking of Mr Sheehy was also defeated.
County councillors also voted down a motion yesterday calling on Environment Minister Phil Hogan to carry out “an investigation” into the council’s running of the fire service and their handling of subsequent inquiries into the deaths of firefighters Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaughnessy.
However, councillors approved a motion calling on Mr Hogan to undertake a review of co-operation given by council staff to the Health and Safety Authority and the Gardai at the time of the investigation.
During the investigation in 2010 Mr Sheehy was taken into Garda custody for questioning and gardai also raided the offices of Wicklow County Council as part of the probe into the tragedy.