Claim that directly elected mayor could turn Limerick into ‘another Venezuela’

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Emmett O'Briend, and Brigid Teefy, Independent. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

THE election of a directly elected mayor could see Limerick under the control of a “celebrity socialist or crackpot leftist that will try and turn us into another Venezuela”.

This was the warning call from Independent councillor Emmet O’Brien at this Tuesday’s Adare-Rathkeale Municipal District meeting of Limerick City and County Council.

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He was responding to a call from Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan, who asked local representatives to lobby for a no vote in the forthcoming plebiscites for a directly elected mayor.

Cllr O’Brien took the view that the people of Limerick were being treated by the government with “brazen contempt” when they couldn’t explain the “power function” of the new directly elected mayor.

“We are being used as guinea pigs by the Dubs. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it,” he declared.

Former Mayor Kevin Sheahan described it as a “scandalous misuse” of taxpayer’s money and maintained there is “no demand” for a directly elected mayor.

“This is not how democracy works. There will be an extra annual burden of €1 million on the taxpayer or we will have to reduce services by €1 million. There will be nowhere else to get the money, unless we start a Lotto,” Cllr Sheahan commented.

“We are seeing the cracks in the proposal. It is a cracked proposal to begin with. This is an additional role to the job that the CEO is already doing. We have a CEO who we can vouch for that he’s already doing a good job. It will be like two goats pulling against each other on the same chain.”

Sinn Féin councillor Ciara McMahon said it was “frightening” to consider that the salary of the directly elected mayor was among the first detail to be released about the proposal.

“Why fix a problem that isn’t there?” she asked.

Independent councillor Richard O’Donoghue was also opposed to the idea of a directly elected mayor, describing the plebiscite as “pure farce”.

Fine Gael councillor Adam Teskey expressed disappointment on the lack of information available.

When pushed by Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan for his opinion, Cllr Stephen Keary (FG) replied: “It is a free and open vote I will be telling people to make up their own minds.”