Limerick bridge renaming row flares after legal letter to Mayor

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THE ROW about the renaming of the Shannon bridge ground to a legal halt in the city council chambers this Friday night when an elected member presented the Mayor with a solicitor’s letter, preventing a debate on the issue.

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Cllr Pat Kennedy(Ind) issued the letter through his solicitors, warning of further legal action if the council does not implement the result of a vote on his motion to rename the bridge the JFK bridge.

There was a packed public gallery, with opponents of the move carrying signs which read “The offices of the city council should not be used for personal gain – do the will of the people”.

There were angry outbursts from a number of councillors when the meeting was adjourned without a debate.

The special meeting had been called after a huge public outcry against the renaming, to determine “means by which the renaming can be referred to the people of Limerick”.

But after receiving Cllr Kennedy’s solicitor’s letter, the Mayor Kathleen Leddin (Ind) said this was “very serious,” and she was taking the advice of administrator, Eugene Griffin to defer the meeting and seek legal advice.

Addressing the meeting, Cllr Kennedy reiterated that after advertising the fact that there was a proposal to change the name “108 submission were received from the public and 71 per cent of those were in favour of the proposal”.

Cllr Diarmuid Scully asked the mayor for a ruling as he believed there had been no actual vote on Cllr Kennedy’s proposal, that the vote had been on an amendment which he had made.

“Depending on the ruling, there are a number of ways we can proceed….but the simplest is to use the local elections. We will all be knocking on doors, we can ask the people of LImerick what they want to do”.

As the Mayor adjourned the meeting an angry Cllr Orlaigh McLoughlin(Lab) shouted across the chamber, “It’s a farce – I’m not going behind closed doors to discuss this any more.”

She was supported by former Mayor, Cllr Gerry McLaughlin who said “we were elected to make decisions, so make them”.

Before the meeting a gathering of protesters, including Ger Noonan from Janesboro told reporters that they believe “Pat Kennedy has his own agenda – he wants to go down in history as the man who had the bridge named after JFK. What’s wrong with the Shannon Bridge?”

In the chamber Cllr Kennedy’s supporters said they believe it is the right thing to do. “It will bring tourists to the city – it would be fantastic,” said Carmel Kennedy from the Ennis Road.

After the meeting Cllr Scully told reporters that he had “never in my fifteen years on this council seen such a thing, that an elected member would use a solicitor’s letter to stop a meeting. It’s an affront to democracy”.

Cllr Scully said Cllr Kennedy was mistaken in thinking there had been 108 submissions. “More than 2,500 people have opposed this through secure social media sites. Some people have to wake up to the fact that there are ways of communicating other than writing letters and particularly solicitor’s letters”.

Cllr Kennedy dismissed the communications as “social media nonsense”.