Council in rough waters over renaming of Shannon Bridge

Shannon BridgeTHREE disgruntled Fine Gael councillors have submitted a notice of motion to Limerick City Council calling for the renaming of the Shannon Bridge to be put to a public vote on local election day on May 23.

Independent councillor Pat Kennedy’s motion to rename the Shannon Bridge the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge, was passed by a single vote last week. It has since been greeted with criticism from councillors who voted against it and members of the public.

Councillors Diarmuid Scully, Jim Long and Denis McCarthy are now proposing that the people of Limerick should be heard on the matter.

The three Fine Gael councillors submitted a notice of motion to City Council last Thursday calling for the renaming of Shannon bridge to be put to the people of Limerick in a public vote to be held in conjunction with the local elections on May 23.

“The people of Limerick have clearly rejected the idea that a major city bridge can be renamed without reference to their views. It is the people’s bridge. It’s time to let the people decide what it is to be called,” Cllr Scully declared.

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He also confirmed that such local plebiscites have been legal in Ireland since the Local Government Act 1946.

“These votes are expensive to run, but by holding it in conjunction with the local elections — when polling stations and count staff will already be in place — the cost can be kept to a very low level. We propose that this cost be met by a corresponding reduction in the Overseas Travel budget for the City Council,” said Scully.

However, Mayor Kathleen Leddin says she will not be reversing the decision because it was done through the proper procedures.

“There was a decision made democratically. The decision was there with the majority in favour of it. It was all held very very correctly. This notice of motion has been going around for almost 12 months, so everyone has known about it for a long time. We held the public consultation, where people wrote in about it and the consensus was that over 70 per cent were in favour and something like just over 20 per cent against,” said Mayor Leddin.

Comments on The Limerick Post facebook page indicated a very strong reaction from a public overwhelmingly against the motion to rename the bridge after John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

“Disgraceful and symbolic that seven councillors alone can group together and rename a city bridge after a foreign president,” said Marc O Maonaigh.

“They may as well have named it the KFC bridge as it has no relevance either,” was the comment from Melyssa McDonnell.

“King John’s Castle is next — JFK castle,” quipped Trevor Kiely.

The seven councillors who voted in favour of renaming the Shannon Bridge after JFK were Cllr Pat Kennedy (Ind), Mayor Kathleen Leddin (Ind), Joe Leddin (Lab), Tom Shortt (Lab), Cormac Hurley (FG), Kevin Kiely (Ind) and John Gilligan (Ind).