Limerick Councillor John Gilligan takes last stand on moving statue

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Patrick Sarsfield statue. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

INDEPENDENT councillor John Gilligan took his last stand at City Hall last week in his fight to have the statue of Patrick Sarsfield moved from its present location into the city centre.

The City North representative had a motion before the Metropolitan District of Limerick City and County Council on Monday, March 18 calling for the bronze statue to be moved to either of the two new developments at O’Connell Street or the Square/Plaza at the Opera Centre.

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Cllr Gilligan’s motion was then referred to the Cultural Strategic Policy Committee for their consideration but he was having none of it.

He accused the council executive of “treating me with contempt” and trying to silence him on the issue.

Director of Service Operations for the Metropolitan District, Kieran Lehane assured him that there was no attempt to silence him. Mr Lehane went on to credit Cllr Gilligan for having “championed this issue for many years”.

“This is the last time I’ll be here. I am simply being ignored,” Cllr Gilligan, who is not running for re-election in this May’s local elections, claimed.

Metropolitan Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Daniel Butler (FG) pointed out that there was no counterproposal.

“Your motion speaks for itself,” he said.

Independent councillor John Loftus then seconded Cllr Gilligan’s proposal.

Fianna Fáil councillor Sean Lynch seized the opportunity to lay compliments upon the former mayor for his “great service to the city”. The City West representative also supported Gilligan in his call to have the Patrick Sarsfield statue moved.

“When you speak I always listen,” he admitted.

Sinn Féin councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh took a different view and called for the “status quo to remain”.

“The people of Garryowen don’t want it moved out of the locality. They are totally against it,” he claimed.

Never a man to back down from a row, Cllr Gilligan was not about to be silenced.

“They have been discussing this for over 200 years. I am glad to see you are on the same page as the Unionists,” he remarked.

Fine Gael councillor Michael Sheahan also supported the call for the Patrick Sarsfield statue to be moved into the city centre.