Council Affairs: New mayor, same old elections

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

AS Cappamore councillor Gerald Mitchell was elected as the Mayor of Limerick City and County last Friday in what was an unusually subdued affair, one big question mark hung over proceedings.

Would this be the last time council members would have the opportunity to have their say on who leads them as they head into the last year of their term in office?

Will the people of Limerick have the opportunity to vote for a Directly Elected Mayor (DEM) next May when they vote in the next batch of clever lads and lassies to represent them at council level?

Or will it end up like the O’Connell Street Revitalisation Project and Opera Centre — the talk of the town for years to come, while very little happens on the ground?

Is it just going to end up another talking shop? Something for the keyboard warriors to have a good moan about while taking aim at the council, as the same shower of ‘old boys’ play pass the parcel for the next millennium with the mayoral chain?

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Speaking about mayoral chains, was the mystery of the €10,000 mayoral chain nicked from Independent councillor Frankie Daly’s car back in 2017 ever solved?

Will the new Directly Elected Mayor’s chain come armed with a homing device?

So many questions, I am dizzy thinking about it.

I mean, what local celebrities will be running for Limerick City and County Council’s answer to hosting The Late Late Show? Celia Holman Lee? Richard Lynch? Emma Langford? Blindboy Boatclub?

Is the Directly Elected Mayor really anything more than another over-the-top Ryan Tubridy-esque position created to milk the taxpayers dry?

Will there be a slush fund? European Champions League Final tickets? Free passes to the Christmas Panto in UCH? Surely, they will be well looked after for the Ryder Cup?

Willie O’Dea has already made it clear he has no interest in running for DEM.

The Limerick Post put the question to everyone’s favourite moustached Fianna Fáil man recently.

“Shakespeare said some people ‘have greatness thrust upon them’, however, it is not for me and I intend to continue to represent the people of Limerick in Dáil Éireann,” Willie replied.

So with O’Dea out of the running, and soon to be treading the boards in a production of Hamlet in a theatre near you, are there any other local councillors, TDs, or senators who might have notions?

Elisa O’Donovan perhaps? Maria Byrne even?

Surely there might even be a few golden oldies, long out to pasture, who might fancy their chances? Michael Noonan anyone?

What about John Moran? The former Secretary-General of the Department of Finance has been very vocal on all things Directly Elected Mayor for the last number of years. The Chair of Liveable Limerick even set up a campaign in 2021 calling for an election the following year.

But, in the grand old Limerick tradition, we are still talking about a Directly Elected Mayor yet no closer to having an election for one.

Mr Moran was asked at the time by the Examiner if his name would be among those on the ballot paper.

“It might, but it won’t necessarily be the first,” he replied.

Moran was quick to deflect attention by pointing out that lots of people’s names, such as Linda Ledger, Helen O’Donnell, Paul O’Connell, and John Kiely were also being bandied about for the lucrative post. I definitely wouldn’t rule Moran out, despite the clever use of smoke and mirrors.

And what about former Limerick Mayor Jim Long?

The former Fine Gael man remembered for developing links between Limerick and Nanjing, during his time in office back in 2011/2012, even had senior Chinese government officials visit the Treaty City on three occasions to talk shop. Long, himself, visited Nanjing twice to help develop links between the two cities and might just be the man to lead our People’s Republic into the future.

I mean, I wouldn’t mind an auld chauffeur, a barter account, all the plates of dainty sandwiches with the crusts cut off you could ate, and a salary of €135,000. Who wouldn’t?

More on my own campaign for Directly Elected Mayor coming soon. Watch this space.