‘Until Bill produced, we’re debating a press release’ – Cllr Kennedy

‘A rate cut in 2015 instead of in 2012 is not acceptable – we must lead a delegation for an immediate assurance that the city rates will be announced at the end of this year – we can’t wait for three years….’ Cllr Scully

CITY COUNCILLORS have reacted angrily to the alleged lack of information furnished to City Hall on Minister Phil Hogan’s decision to implement a joint authority in Limerick.
Cllr Pat Kennedy told a meeting on Monday:

“I’ve had it confirmed that no Bill has been printed regarding the minister’s joint authority decision. – we’ve been debating a press release. There’s been no reference made in it to us being able to strike a rate for the city – it’s obvious that the new body will now have this function. Also this new body will take over the regeneration programme, when it should remain under the city council.

“We must fight for the city with clean hands – Limerick is a special case needing special care, and it doesn’t constitute a model for any other area.
“There is no Bill published – I propose that we adjourn this meeting for further consideration at the appropriate time”.
On a vote, Cllr Kennedy’s motion was carried.
Mayor Jim Long told the meeting:
“I”m fearful that after 2014, there will be three main cities – Dublin, Cork and Galway – I’m very distressed with the way the Environment Minister’s office has handled this issue – it is the wrong decision but one we will have to deal with”.
The worst outcome, according to Cllr Diarmuid Scully, would be “a slow strangulation of the city.
“I do not, however, agree that the city will disappear – we need to recognise that there will be two economic units and we will work to lead this process.
“A rate cut in 2015 instead of in 2012 is not acceptable – we must lead a delegation for an immediate assurance that the city rates will be announced at the end of this year – we can’t wait for three years.”
There were questions about the five-year mayoralty issue.
“Will it be a directly or indirectly elected mayoralty – it must be a directly elected mayor”.
Conceding that the “race is run,” Cllr John Gilligan said that nevertheless, “we must gain whatever we can.
“This council is the only one in Ireland which for a number of years reduced the commercial rate, yet we got no credit for this – there’s never good news with reference to Limerick – Limerick City Council has been one of the most efficient of the country’s local authorities – it ticked all the right boxes and this should be rewarded”.
Disappointed that Minister Phil Hogan did not have the courtesy to brief the councillors on the abolition of the council, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon, said:
“The Tricolour that flies here on the grounds of City Hall should now be flown at half mast. There will be no rate reduction this year for the business sector – they will get it with amalgamation of the councils – the delay of three years is disgraceful..
“I suggest that we call on our four TDs to support the city’s status”.
He submitted a notice of motion “that the council rejects the government’s decision to form a joint authority, and regrets that the council’s proposal for a boundary extension that was carefully costed, was ignored.
“The council calls on the minister to reconsider his decision”.
People are approaching councillors for further information on the amalgamation, which makes it imperative that they are fully briefed,” Cllr Michael Hourigan told the meeting.
Criticising the “confrontational language used by county councillors that they will take over the city,” Cllr Tom Shortt said the city had been strangled.
“We have endured a siege for many decades as the county took the resources of the city and spent the rates across their own country. The Berlin Wall fell, maybe the Dooradoyle Walls have come down.
“We have to embrace the minister’s plan”.
Cllr Denis McCarthy recommended that both councils meet without delay.

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