THE CHALLENGES facing local government and the implications for rural life were outlined this week by a veteran councillor who is stepping back from politics after 29 years of service.
Cllr Noel Gleeson (FF) was speaking at his last meeting as a member of the Kilmallock/Cappamore district of Limerick City and County Council in his native Cappamore last Friday.
Responding to tributes paid to him by fellow councillors, he thanked his colleagues, council officials and the media for their work and co-operation over the years.
“I enjoyed it and I made great friends,” he said, reflecting that he had seen two recessions in his time in office.
“The last one was shocking for the people of Ireland,” he observed.
“But it is wonderful now to see people coming and going from this area to their good jobs in Limerick and elsewhere,” he said.
But he expressed concern that the 2040 national development plan poses major challenges to rural life in Limerick.
“This is the biggest challenge yet for local government. To say you can’t have development unless you have a population of 10,000 or more , that’s serious for rural life.
“Now it’s proposed we have a National Regulator in Dublin. If that set up goes ahead, we are going to suffer.
“From here in Cappamore, it’s only a 20 minute commute to good jobs. Why are people not allowed to build a home and live in their their own parish and be part of their rural community?” he asked.
This plan was always all about Dublin and Cork, and it’s been a difficult twelve months fighting that,” he said.
District chairman Cllr Eddie Ryan said that Cllr Gleeson’s contribution to the council had been enormous.
Cllr Bridget Teefey (Ind) said the veteran councillor had “given massive service to the community.”
Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehan (Ind) noted that Cllr Gleeson “has been serving longer than I’ve been alive. He’s a true community man,” while Cllr Bill O’Donnell (FG) said that his retiring fellow councillor was “a man who has fully represented his community.”
Cllr Mike Donegan (FF) described the retiring councillor as “someone I have always looked up to and turned to for good advice. It was an honour to work with him”.