Budget Vote

With the vote of Independent John Campbell, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein voted down the budget last week by 15-13. There was to be one more effort on Monday. The absolute deadline was midnight.

One Sinn Fein Councillor, Jack Murray, had been absent last time. Fianna Fail said that they would vote against the budget again as did Sinn Fein. They wanted to make a stand. They said there was no point in the meeting.

With Jack Murray’s vote that meant the arithmetic would be 16-13 against the budget. Even if John Campbell cut a deal with Fine Gael and Labour, it would still be 15-14 against the budget.


However, Fianna Fail got too confident that they had John Campbell’s vote in their pocket. The Fine Gale leader had spoken by phone with him on Sunday night and met with him on Monday morning.

Fianna Fail should have made it clear to all their Councillors that attendance was mandatory – right up to the midnight deadline which would be the point when the elected council would be dissolved and all the councillors would be out of work.

This was too important to have arranged other things.

Be Prepared

They should have told their councillors that anything else they had on that evening should be cancelled and if it could not then a substitute should be put in place.

Rena Donaghey had made it clear to the Fianna Fail leadership that she had to leave the meeting to do some teaching work. Whoever the Whip is should have insisted that she got someone to substitute for her.

However, they didn’t. They were too confident of John Campbell’s vote and thought they had enough votes anyway.


However, John Campbell is an Independent and not beholden to them. He can cut any deal he likes for the benefit of his constituents.

Rona Donaghey was due to leave at 5:30pm. She stayed to 6:15pm and went off to teach.

There was to be a break in the budget discussions between 7pm and 8pm. John texted the Fine Gael leader, Barry O’Neill, that he wanted to talk with him during the break.

Opportunity Knocked

Rena Dogharty was missing on teaching duties. Suddenly everything depended on John Campbell’s vote again. There was an opportunity to cut a deal – which he has every right to do.

He is not a member of Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein and he was elected to get the best deal for his constituents, not to get Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein agendas through.

Deal Arranged

He met up with the Fine Gael leader and cut a deal with him. Concessions were made to him. His mind was made up. He would change sides and vote for the budget.

Rena Donaghey was going to come back after her teaching engagement. However, they were due to go back in after the break and a vote was going to be asked for right away by Fine Gael and Labour as was their right.

The Vote

Sinn Fein started to get wind of what was happening and didn’t want to go back into the meeting. However, a vote was going to be called for whether or not they were there.

They said they were railroaded into going back into the meeting. However, there was no good reason to delay the meeting.

They went back in. Rena Donaghey was in the car on her way back to the meeting ready to vote against the budget.

However a vote was called for before she arrived. The result, with Councillor John Campbell changing his vote after the deal he struck, was 14-14.

Now it was down to the casting vote of Councillor Ian McGarvey. He voted to pass the budget.


Fine Gael and Labour had won. Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail had lost. Fianna Fail blamed John Campbell. Sinn Fein blamed Rena Donaghy.

However, the real cause of the problem was twofold.

Firstly, that Fianna Fail took John Campbell’s vote for granted even though he was an Independent and could cut any deal he liked with anyone he liked. he was on a once in a lifetime situation and he played his cards well.

Secondly, they failed to make sure that all of their Councillors were there all of the time at meeting.

Fine Gael and Labour just took advantage of this – and John Campbell cut himself a great deal.

The Blame

Fianna Fail have no one else to blame but themselves for this fiasco that, according to the Fine Gael leader, has made Donegal a laughing-stock all over the country.

It was a failure of organisation and it was a  failure of leadership.

Fine Gael and Labour just took advantage of that and John Campbell took the opportunity to fill his pockets with concessions made to him to get his vote.

I’m afraid that his was the night that Rena and the Fianna Fail leadership put the Fail in Fianna Fail.

It must come as a real shock to Rena to be sent a message in her car on the way back that there was no point in coming. The vote had been lost as she had not been there to cast her vote.


Of course there will be plenty of people who will say that it was very handy that Rena was away when the votes were cast. Her disappearance gave them all a way out and they call kept their jobs.

Many people were saying beforehand that they would find a way to pass the budget and keep their jobs.

Was Rena’s departure just a ruse? Was it a way out for them?

Some people will believe so. If it wasn’t, it was rank bad planning and management.