Council Affairs: Councillors giving it socks over Sandygate

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

THE auld socks around the ankles look isn’t a good one as far as some of our city councillors are concerned.

And last week, representatives from the Metropolitan District sent a very strong message out to the halls of academia in UL, for our learned friends to pull up theirs or else!

This little fashion faux-pas had clearly upset a number of councillors, who seemingly prefer to wear their stockings up around their ears. They were pure bulling at the bold as brass impropriety of it all.

I mean, did you ever hear the like of it? Socks at half mast! The indignity of this fanciful trend. Scholars showing a bit of ankle without an ounce of shame. These bookish types don’t half have some notions!

But it was the health and safety concerns around these low-flying booties that really got councillors hot under the collar.

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The thinking was that if they were really that smart out in UL, they might realise that with the socks pulled up they wouldn’t be the “useless organisation” that one Fine Gael councillor considered them to be.

“UL are something to behold now when it comes to engagement,” Cllr Sarah Kiely declared as she rocked the bee in the bonnet look with real pizzazz.

Well, do you know what, if you were going to judge me on my fashion choices, I wouldn’t want to engage with you either, Councillor.

The man responsible for bringing the conversation round to the University’s indecent dress sense was Green Party councillor Seán Hartigan – who is, in fairness, far more of a waders and waterproof jacket kind of guy.

Striking a splendid pose, Cllr Hartigan proposed a motion that a submerged metal bench in a popular bathing area at ‘Sandy’ on the Plassey Bank at UL be removed. Now, this wasn’t some highbrow art installation, but your common or garden metal bench, which the City East representative considered a significant risk to swimmers, animals, and even UL scholars should they fancy an autumnal dip.

Like the very notion of droopy socks, Cllr Hartigan conceded that his motion was now effectively a damp squib thanks to the heroic efforts of Limerick City and County Council.

“I had been trying to get this object removed for quite a while. You would think trying to get something like a metal object in a bathing area removed would be easy, but by God it wasn’t. Talking about passing the buck. Everyone I went to blamed somebody else.

“Having spoken to the OPW (Office of Public Works), it would seem the riparian landowner there is actually UL and they are responsible for managing the river there. But I got absolutely no engagement from UL, absolutely no help. In fact, the way I was treated when I did get through wasn’t very nice. They didn’t seem to be taking this issue seriously at all,” he claimed with pouting lips.

I had to Google ‘riparian’ too, dear reader.

“I am still going to engage with UL to try and get the remainder of the bench removed. It is a lot safer now than it was and I would like to thank Limerick City and County Council for their help with that,” Hartigan concluded.

According to the Council, their Roads department, in the interest of urgency and public safety, removed the protruding bench from the water at Sandy. Senior Executive Engineer Mike Richardson also pointed out that any maintenance issue in this area along the River Shannon should be dealt directly by the ESB or UL under their own property maintenance.

From here the meeting took a more colourful tone. Think local authority meeting sponsored by the United Colours of Benetton.

Cllr Sarah Kiely, wearing a little fiery number with hearts on the sleeve, strutted her stuff like her life depended on it.

“I have never in my life come across a more useless organisation when you try speak to someone in charge, or try and get some sort of a result, or even try and highlight something. I’ve had similar experiences with UL that Seán has had and it is just unacceptable,” striking a balance between Maud Gonne and Maude Flanders.

”They come to us for different requirements throughout the calendar year and I think if they don’t start playing ball we shouldn’t be playing ball with them at all. Mutual respect is needed in any workplace.”

Now, I don’t know if intellectuals play football. I can’t imagine they do. But you’d certainly want the socks pulled up if Cllr Kiely, a formidable full-back, was coming in at you for a slide tackle. You’d be in for some bruise, so there’s real logic to the socks up or on your bike attitude.

“For them to be treating councillors with such total and utter disregard is downright rude. It’s not acceptable. They either pull up their socks or we start playing hardball when it comes to their requests that come through our area here. They need to be held to account. A frank discussion is needed on how this relationship can be mended. We’ve had other issues with UL previously, so this isn’t a new phenomenon at all for us.

”The bench would still be there if we were waiting for UL. I’d say they wouldn’t even answer the phone or answer an email, let alone do a bit of work,” she fumed.

How did UL take this dressing down?

“There is ongoing engagement between UL and the local elected representatives on a number of issues, including this one. UL worked in partnership with Limerick City and County Council to bring this particular situation to a satisfactory conclusion,” a spokesperson said.

Giving it socks there lads.