Following the local elections, the battle for control of Limerick and Cork County Councils is likely to go down to the wire with the parties and Independents on both authorities locked in discussions this week as they gear up for first meetings tomorrow Friday.

History will be made when the newly merged Limerick City and County Council meets for the first time. The recently elected 40 members of the new authority are to meet at the University Concert Hall at 2.30pm. Among the first items on the agenda is to elect a new Cathaoirleach and Leas Cathaoirleach for the next twelve months. As no party has a majority on the new body, it is likely to be a coalition of parties which will control the Council for the next five years.

Fianna Fáil has the biggest representations on the new Council with 13 members, Fine Gael has 12, Sinn Féin 6, Labour and Anti Austerity Alliance 3 each, and there are three Independents, Brigid Teefy, Emmett O’Brien and John Gilligan.

A split threatened in the Fianna Fáil group over the weekend but that matter has now been resolved and all groups are focused on Friday’s meeting.

Discussions have taken and are ongoing between parties and the Indepen-dents and a picture on who will come together to form a majority will not become clear until later in the week.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have a comfortable majority of 25 members between them and should form a cohesive group. Any other combination will need three groups to get the necessary majority of 21 to elect a Cathaoir-leach and Leas Cathaoir-leach.

As in Limerick, Fianna Fáil has the biggest party representation on the 55 member Cork County Council, with 17 elected representatives, Fine Gael has 16, Sinn Féin 10, Labour 2 and there are 10 Independents. Achieving the magic 28 majority here will also take considerable discussion, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have 33 mem-bers and, should they agree, could form a solid working majority. The Sinn Féin block of 10 could, however, be king-makers if they choose to enter into an agreement, but such an alliance would need at least one from the Independent ranks if it were with Fianna Fáil, and two if with Fine Gael, and still it would be only a wafer thin working arrangement.

It is possible that agree-ments may not be reached in either county until the hours immediately before the Councils are due to convene tomorrow.