All roads lead to City for newly merged local authority in Limerick

Cllr Stephen Keary
Cllr Stephen Keary

COUNCILLORS in the new municipal district of Adare-Rathkeale have proposed that the newly merged Limerick City and County Council reconsider moving its planning, environment and roads departments back to the County Hall in Dooradoyle.

Speaking at the first Adare-Rathkeale area meeting this Tuesday, Cllr Stephen Keary (FG) expressed disappointment over the recent “carving up” of the three related services, with the relocation of the planning department to new city offices on Patrick Street.

Cllr Keary called on the Council to reconsider reversing its decision and move all the departments back to County Hall to facilitate people from County Limerick with planning issues.

“There was a triangle that worked well between these three departments in Dooradoyle. Planning, roads and environment go hand in hand and now it’s been made more difficult for people from the County by carving them up,” said Cllr Keary.

“It’s disgraceful that there isn’t even a public toilet for customers at the new Council office in Patrick Street. Ye talk about putting people first, but ye are putting them last,” he said.

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The Fine Gael councillor also stated that he had “major difficulty” that promises made by the Council executive 18 months ago, before the merger, to bring all services under the one roof in Rathkeale, had not been honoured.

“We were told it would be like a mini County Hall, but the office hasn’t changed,” said Cllr Keary.

Cllr Richard O’Donoghue (FF) seconded Cllr Keary’s motion to have the three planning departments reinstated in County Hall. The first-time councillor reminded the Council executive that it was tasked with serving the people of County Limerick and not just the city.

“The County has looked after the City long enough. You’ve made it harder now for people in the country to get to ye. The system that was in place in Dooradoyle was perfect and its time to put it back the way it was,” he said.

Cllr Ciara McMahon (SF) agreed that all the local authority offices were based in the City and did not serve those living in rural areas.

“A return journey from Ballyhahill into the city is 74 miles. What happens if I don’t drive and need to conduct business with the planning department?” she asked.

Council director of finance and director of the new municipal district of Adare-Rathkeale, Tom Gilligan told councillors that he was “disappointed” to hear their comments. He said that the newly merged local authority was at the “birth stage” and insisted that “putting people first” was at its core.

Cathaoirleach of Limerick City and County Council, Cllr Kevin Sheahan (FF), told council members that there was nothing said at the historic first meeting that he didn’t disagree with. He also predicted that teething problems within the newly merged local authority would “come right eventually”.

Newly elected Cathaoirleach of the Adare-Rathkeale municipal district, Cllr Tom Neville (FG), said it was vitally important that all services were retained in the area.