Council Affairs: Best show in town

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

BACK to business our hardworking Limerick councillors are this week after another debauched summer break.

Of course, the phone doesn’t stop ringing just because they are off swilling porter. You can be damn sure they are still going at it like the clappers when school’s out. That’s their story anyway, and they’re sticking to it.

It’s tough at the top. Those luscious clotted-cream scones aren’t going to eat themselves, no sir.

But they are back at it once again now with new shiny lunchboxes in tow. And what better way to kick off the new term than a go on the new swings and roundabouts in the newfangled playground in the People’s Park.

Shur, after closing it for the summer and keeping the ankle-biters out of the place, they boldly reopen the upgraded version to coincide with councillors’ return. Coincidence? It’s all fun and games for this lot, I tell you.

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I suppose they might as well start their last term before elections as they mean to go on – standing into photographs and taking credit for this, that, and the other. Their poor fingers will be throbbing by the time we get to the ballot box next June from pointing at potholes and lampposts and stray horses. They will be like poor auld E.T. with their achy digits.

A special meeting is already planned for this Thursday (September 7) on anti-social behaviour to kick things off with a right knees up. The craturs will probably be worn out after their go on the slides.

Maybe a woman’s touch is needed to sort the boys down in City Hall.

Fianna Fáil councillor Catherine Slattery, who said in our pages last week that people are afraid to go into the city centre, certainly means business.

Cllr Slattery called for a special meeting of the Metropolitan District to deal with the problem of louts and blaggards.

Taking no prisoners on the matter, she requested that Senior Gardaí be in attendance. The City East representative also took issue with €10million overtime pay for Gardaí and armed response units to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in the Capital, while Limerick, she maintains, is forgotten.

“People are frightened to go into the city centre during the day, not to mind at night, and this has to stop,” Cllr Slattery declared.

The Fianna Fáil woman wasn’t pulling any punches.

Speaking of punches, two of Fine Gael’s most nimble councillors were throwing shapes in the ring last week. So light on their feet they never miss a photo opportunity, councillors Sarah Kiely and Daniel Butler had the dukes up and teeth bared for photographers. I mean, there’s no point donating money if you’re not going to get your picture taken, right?

Truth be told, Cllrs Kiely and Butler could be real contenders.

The pair said they were delighted to be able to support the purchase of a ring for West End Boxing Club with their donation. Fair play to them. If they keep the training up, they’ll be floating like butterflies and stinging like bees by the time the elections come round, be they local or more mayoral.

As it turns out, the Fine Gael heavyweights weren’t the only ones bobbing and weaving in anticipation of getting back to the grand Council table.

Green Party councillor Seán Hartigan was mad for a hop off some of his local authority colleagues.

Like a mad yoke gagging for a row outside a chipper, he took a pop last week at Limerick councillors who took the view that building cost rental was denying people an opportunity to purchase their own homes.

He was reacting to controversy over Cairn Homes’ development of 222 units between Chawkes and the Castletroy Urban Greeway (The Mills) which will see 10 per cent of these houses (22) available as social houses to people on the Council waiting list.

On top of that, a further 56 units will be managed by a housing association, again for people on the Council waiting list, while eight units in the estate will be available to older people who wish to downsize making their houses available to families. The remaining 136 units will be cost rental.

Cllr Hartigan was of the view that this model introduced, by his party, has proven to be a very effective way of providing housing in many European countries.

“People who wish to buy their own homes in Castletroy need to be afforded an opportunity to do so.”

Fighting talk indeed.

Who needs playgrounds when we have our local councillors to keep us riled up and entertained? Best show in town.