City and county councillors at loggerheads over ‘cutting of the cake’ in Limerick

Cllr Kevin Sheahan compared the funding split to fictional highwayman Dick Turpin. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

A FULL special meeting of Limerick City and County Council was called this week as unrest brewed over the divvying up of spoils from 2024 Active Travel funding allocations.

Speaking at Monday’s gathering in County Hall, Fine Gael councillor Stephen Keary hit out that child safety projects in the county were crying out for capital funding but there was no budget for it within Active Travel.

Cllr Keary also took the view that there are many kilometres of cycle lanes built in the city which have now “turned green” because of the lack of use and maintenance.

“When is this going to change?” he asked the council executive.

“We have a schedule of the Active Travel investment plans for 2024 made available to Limerick City and County Council and I am extremely disappointed with the way the figures are skewed toward the city environs. There’s a total of €21million and the city is probably getting about €19m of that,” he claimed.

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“What are we doing wrong out in the county, are we bold or something? It’s a bit like the Dublin 4 set that they don’t know anywhere beyond the city boundaries. They seem to have forgotten about anywhere outside of ‘The Pale’ of Limerick.”

The Adare-Rathkeale representative said that “there’s some massive figures there for the TUS City Centre Active Travel Scheme, what does that entail? There are other big ones there — Raheen to Quinns Cross Travel Scheme, St Paul’s Junction, Dooradoyle, Father Russell Road Cycle Scheme. Why can’t we spend some of the money out the county and get our act together?”

Cllr Keary went on to ask for half of the funds towards Active Travel allocations in 2024 to be spent in the county. This call was seconded by his party colleague in the Adare-Rathkeale Municipal District, Cllr Adam Teskey.

Fianna Fáil councillor and Askeaton native Cllr Kevin Sheahan told council members that he was of the understanding that before Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council amalgamated in 2014 that “the cake would be cut evenly”.

Cllr Sheahan maintained that there is no case since becoming a single authority where this has happened, deeming the council as “anti-county”.

“When I was a young fella I used to love reading Dick Turpin. Well I have never seen such a reincarnation of Dick Turpin, a highway man. We are being walked all over, we are being cheated, we are being robbed, and I won’t withdraw that remark. I’m sticking by my guns now.

“It is so cruel to treat our people in such a fashion. It is highway robbery,” Cllr Sheahan insisted.

Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon (FF) suggested that a box of tissues should have been brought into the meeting for county councillors shedding “terrible crocodile tears”.

“On the greenway, out by your area Cllr Sheahan, in Rathkeale and all onto Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale, I think we spent millions out there and you didn’t hear any cribbing from the city boys or girls,” Cllr O’Hanlon said.

Green Party councillor Seán Hartigan thanked the council executive for outlining the “massive unprecedented funding” that has come from his party leader Eamon Ryan’s office over the last couple of years.

“I would also like to thank Cllr Keary and councillors from the county for supporting the delivery of sustainable transport and calling for more of it in the county. We all agree with that,” he chimed in.