NOT since the 1920’s has Sinn Féin had a group of councillors on Limerick’s local authority.
And, with six councillors now on the newly amalgamated Limerick City and County Council, last’s Friday’s inaugural meeting was an auspicious and historic occasion for the Party.
There hasn’t been a Sinn Féin councillor in County Limerick for almost 100 years. But, in Limerick’s changed political landscape, the party now has a councillor in each of the six electoral areas.
The significance of the historic first meeting was certainly not lost on Cllr Maurice Quinlivan who has, up until now, flown the flag solo for Sinn Féin on the old city council. Making his opening speech at the first meeting of the new Council, he spoke of Sinn Féin’s “deep political and ideological differences” with many on the new local government structure.
“We make no bones about the fact that we regard ourselves as a Republican Socialist party with a distinct and alternative vision for Ireland and its people,” he said.
The poll-topping City North councillor revealed that the new joint authority was not the type of structure that his party would have wished for and expressed his strong belief that Limerick City Council should have been retained and granted the boundary extension that it had sought over many decades.
“The whole restructuring of local government does not have as its aim ‘putting people first’. Rather, the merging of councils and the abolition of borough and town councils is but a further hollowing out of local democracy and underlines its status as the most centralised in Western Europe,” claimed Cllr Quinlivan.
In what was arguably the most hard-hitting speech on a day where political bed-hopping and rose-tinted rhetoric abounded, Cllr Quinlivan pointed out that it is the first time there was a clear left-right divide in the Council, with both conservative parties “finally coming together”, and Sinn Féin leading the opposition.