Council Affairs: Let the games begin on DEM elections

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

SO it’s official. Limerick is a go for a Directly Elected Mayor in 2024. The Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick Bill was progressed from the Dáil to the Seanad and bums are absolutely twitching in seats to get announcing candidacy.

Deemed a “significant milestone”, but hopefully one that will not be tied around the neck to weigh down the good people of Limerick, the bill was progressed to its final stages in Dáil Éireann by Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell.

The Limerick politician waxed lyrical about getting this expensive can, with its own advisors and limo driver, kicked down the road to its final destination.

”Historic reform”, he called it. Indeed.

The jury is still out on that one, but there is certainly interesting days, weeks, and months ahead.

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Leo Varadkar hopes that Limerick guinea pigs… I mean voters… will go to the polls to elect an executive mayor in June 2024.

“I believe the office will be a success,” he opined recently.

“I want to make sure it is well funded, is a success, and becomes an example for other counties and city regions to follow.”

Taking place on the same date as Limerick’s local elections on June 7, the election of the Treaty City’s big kahuna should be the best show in town since the O’Connell Street Revitalisation Project – I mean pure soap opera kinda stuff.

And the big question is – who fancies the gig?

What crackpots, local celebrities, has been politicians, and slippery businessmen are licking their lips at the prospect of €152,000 a year plus all the other perks that come with the job?

And who even are the contenders for this lucrative, and in my humble opinion, unnecessary role?

There’s been a few names bandied about already but I wouldn’t give some of them much credence. Green Party TD Brian Leddin has already thrown his oar in, that much we know. I have heard on the rumour bill everyone from Maurice Quinlivan to Maria Byrne and Paul Foley, who worked with Limerick Council for 31 years, mentioned for the job.

Talk is cheap, of course, but considering the local elections brings the flakes out of the woodwork, there must be every possibility of some local colour tying their flags to the DEM mast.

By all accounts, John Kiely has taken himself out of the mix with his five in a row ambitions taking the lead even over his former day job, and Paul O’Connell, I am told, is far too grounded and down to Earth to get caught up in this circus.

Fianna Fáil councillor of 39 years, and former Limerick Mayor, Cllr Kevin Sheahan might fancy a crack at it perhaps?

There’s also former no-nonsense Independent councillor John Gilligan still knocking about as well, and could be a fine man to put manners on the boyos at City Hall.

And who knows, maybe former Limerick Fine Gael councillor and former Mayor Jim Long could be plotting his return into the political arena as we speak.

The truth is out there and 2024 promises to give us plenty to ponder as the election season gets into full swing.

Brace yourselves!