Council Affairs: Mayoral candidates, let’s be havin’ ye

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

With 2024 now upon us, a day of reckoning is fast approaching for Limerick’s 40 representatives at the council table.

This coming June, the good people of the Treaty City will make for the ballot box to have their say on who will form the next sitting of Limerick City and County Council for the coming five years. And to really sexy up election day proceedings, voters will also be asked to choose Limerick’s first Directly Elected Mayor (DEM) to boot.

In just five months’ time, the electorate will take to the polls to have their say on the new skipper and crew they want to see steer the good ship Limerick over the high seas on O’Connell Street and into the future.

As the political landscape prepares for a huge shift in the power dynamic at City Hall over the coming months, all eyes are fixed on the likely lads and lasses looking to tie their name to the mast.

Sinn Féin are still the party to watch in the upcoming locals, which are likely to be followed by a general election by year’s end. The Irish republican and democratic socialist political party have seen a drop in support in recent opinion polls but are still the most popular party in the land, for now, which has some of the old brigade in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in a real cold sweat.

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Whether Mary Lou’s gang can keep their powder dry and avoid any major scandals in the coming months is also likely to have an impact on how the polls are shaping up, but of course opinion polls won’t mean diddly squat when June rolls around.

There’s nothing as queer as folk, as they say, and shur, you never know what is actually going through their minds until the final tally is added up.

For now, Sinn Féin are the belles of the ball, but anything can and will happen in the next few months. Who knows, if they don’t trip over their cumbersome jackboots they might just do enough to turn the system on its head and show us what it’s like to have our bread buttered on the other side.

There’s still whisperings of Maurice Quinlivan running for mayor. If this proves to be more than a rumour and the Sinn Féin man were to be successful, this would surely be a telling indictment of any such political change on the horizon.

Of course, there’s also still talk of Fianna Fáil running Limerick’s best-loved politician, Willie O’Dea, for the top job. A dark horse if ever there was one, this would certainly make for an interesting contest if Willie and his old sparring partner Quinlivan were to go head to head for top billing.

However, according to Willie himself, there’s no chance of him running.

The Green Party’s Brian Leddin has put his name in the hat, this much we know, and fair play to him for being the first to get the name out.

For the most part, all candidate speculation is just that at the moment and parties themselves are being far too quiet. Though there’s rumours abound that former General Secretrary of the Finance Department John Moran has had his name bandied about as a possible frontrunner for Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael candidacy.

Anyone with ears will know that John has been the most vocal boy in town about the Directly Elected Mayor since day one. The big question there was always if he would run for the blueshirts or as an Independent. Now would be a good time to nail the colours to the mast.

Hopefully, in the next week or so, we will have more than blind speculation to work with, but another name I have heard mentioned for DEM is Labour Party young-blood Cllr Conor Sheehan.

Youthful and ambitious, Sheehan could, despite his inexperience, prove a popular candidate with the cool kids. It would certainly make a nice change from the usual dinosaurs. Conor is a sharp head, and a sharper wit, on boyish shoulders, and would bring a vibrancy and modern edge to proceedings. I wouldn’t rule this boy out.

Still, they are all too quiet for my liking right now. You’d swear there is no appetite for a DEM with the big salary, chauffeur-driven ride, and all the other bling and perks that come with the gig.

Let’s be havin’ ye. Will ye come out fighting and be quick about it.