Council Affairs: Councillors scramble to discuss city scourge

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

“HALF the time men think they are talking business, they are wasting time.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Kieran O’Hanlon would certainly beg to differ with renowned newspaper editor and novelist Edgar Watson Howe on that one.

Wasting time was the last thing on the former mayor’s mind at a special meeting last Thursday to tackle the worsening issue of scramblers and anti-social behaviour in the city.

Cllr O’Hanlon made it very clear to council members, the executive, and members of the Garda force, who gave up their precious time to attend an all-important council pow-wow, that dawdling was not an option.

Fiddling about is not on local representatives’ repertoire, right? These cats are all business, and you won’t find them shilly-shallying between now and the local elections next June. God forbid.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

I mean, those potholes won’t point at themselves and then there’s the funding announcements that will have to be welcomed. It’s not as if half of them are trying to fit five years of work into just nine months.

Piddling away the time was not on the cards at County Hall last week, according to Cllr O’Hanlon.

If truth be told, last Thursday’s meeting was more like the bi-monthly get together of Limerick’s Lonely Hearts Club, a gathering of lost souls with nowhere else to go for a bit of warmth and human contact.

Telpis.It would break your heart to see.

Clearly half these councillors have far too much time on their hands and should maybe consider knitting or baking classes to pass the time.

But no, a waste of time this meeting was not, or so we were boldly told.

“Some people think this meeting is a waste of time, I certainly don’t because many of us are not on the Joint Policing Committee, so it’s our one opportunity in the year where we, as public representatives, can come along and speak to the Gardaí in public about the issues that affect our constituents. This is no waste of a meeting, in case people think it is,” Cllr Hannon insisted.

I don’t know who thought the meeting was a waste of time to begin with, he never said, but thankfully that one was cleared up. 

Personally, I think the man doth protest too much. Normally when politicians start talking about ‘constituents’, they only have elections on their mind.

In fairness, councillors made very good points and raised some very serious concerns, but these were good points and serious concerns that have been raised countless times in the council chamber. 

Councillors said nothing we haven’t heard before. There was nothing said the executive hadn’t heard before, and there was certainly nothing said that Garda force members, who had police work they could have been doing, hadn’t heard before or didn’t already know.

As councillors said, if something isn’t done in the city to deal with the scourge of scramblers, someone could be killed. 

This striking statement has been strewn across headlines in local papers (including this one) many times over. Councillors have monthly Joint Policing Committee meetings to raise these issues at local authority level and I am sure they also have a direct line with the top brass at Henry Street and Roxboro Garda Stations if they have something to raise.

Gardaí made it clear to council members at last week’s meeting that their hands are tied until the Minister for Justice signs off on legislation that has been sitting on her desk since July that will give them powers to deal with the misuse of scramblers. 

That considered, wouldn’t councillors have been better served making some noise and stomping their feet within their own parties and putting pressure on their own TDs to get this one over the line?

A waste of time? I suppose that all depends on whether you look at things with a glass half full or glass half empty perspective.

In terms of PR exercise, it was certainly time well spent for local representatives. If only for the photo opportunity with Gardaí at the end of the meeting that they could post later on social media to garner votes, it was hardly a waste.