Limerick councillor surprised to learn that he’d bought a convent

Cllr John Gilligan is surprised to read in the Limerick Post that he has acquired a convent.

INDEPENDENT councillor John Gilligan spoke of his absolute surprise on reading in the Limerick Post last week that he had bought a convent.

The straight-shooting City North representative, was commenting in City Hall on the announcement that Limerick City and County Council have purchased the former Salesian Secondary School and Convent for Limerick Twenty Thirty as part of its redevelopment of urban areas.

“Nobody told me,” Cllr Gilligan told the executive of the local authority at this month’s Metropolitan District meeting.

“I had to read it in the Limerick Post that I had bought a convent. I thought Limerick Twenty Thirty was supposed to have been set up for the redevelopment of three key sites at Patrick Street, the Hanging Gardens on Henry Street and the Cleeve’s site.

“Now, all of a sudden there are four sites. Next we will be hearing they have bought a big dairy farm in Kerry,” he said.

Cllr Gilligan expressed his disappointment that councillors were not informed beforehand about plans to purchase the Salesian’s site, which had been in use as a girls secondary school at Fernbank since the 1960s.

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“No one told us until afterwards. In fact I had to read about it in the paper. This should not be allowed. This should not happen and is something that will definitely have to change,” he insisted.

Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh then described Limerick Twenty Thirty as the NAMA of Limerick City and County Council. He felt councillors did not have enough of a say in what goes on in local government and saw the situation as “worrying”.

“We are elected representatives and should have a say. I thought Limerick Twenty Thirty was going to look at key derelict sites that need to be developed, not some NAMA-esque quango,” he fumed.

“It is worrying when we don’t know what’s happening”.

Director of Services for the Metropolitan District, Kieran Lehane explained that the Salesian Secondary School and Convent was acquired as its boundaries extended onto the Cleeve’s site.

“This makes it a more complete site with a range of fine buildings. The Council has acquired an asset,” he informed councillors.

by Alan Jacques