HomeCommentColumnsCouncil Affairs: DEM racers have left the starting blocks

Council Affairs: DEM racers have left the starting blocks


FINALLY! After much flapping, the race for directly elected Mayor of Limerick (DEM) is finally out of the starting blocks. And thank God for that.

It’s early days yet, but nothing of what we’ve seen so far would fill you with much confidence. Up to this point, it’s been less of a sprint and more a heedful crawl with all the gusto of an expectant walrus.

At least the “weighing up my options” brigade have gotten off the pot, and Fianna Fáil even had a photo op earlier this with their candidate who isn’t yet a candidate but will be a week after said photo op took place. Straight forward, right?

Fine Gael, I’m told, are not meeting until the end of the month to pick their candidate. Sinn Féin don’t seem to be at the races at all. And while Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan boldly told Joe Nash of Live 95 fame that he was “seriously considering” throwing his name into the hat, he has yet to make shapes.

In my own not so humble opinion, I started out of the belief that our first DEM is a job made for one of our current sitting councillors. But nobody seems to really want it – well, besides You Know Who formerly of the Finance Department.

The best way out of this bind would be to get someone who knows the inner workings of the local authority, from the staff’s quirks right down to how they take their coffee – as well as the many bureaucratic pitfalls to getting things done – and let them tease out the problems in the first term.

I’m talking about a Guinea Pig to warm up the hot seat for a real DEM in five years’ time. If all goes well and we see a greater appetite than we do at present, then let them all at it!

In fairness, You Know Who is probably the right person for the job, but sadly this one feels like it’s probably going to end up a popularity contest yet. If it’s just going to be another figurehead who played rugby in their prime, just give the job to Limerick’s hungry All-Ireland hurlers on a rotating basis and be done with it.

And while councillors can run for re-election this June and also run for DEM, by going for both they would be playing a very dangerous game. The consensus from many local representatives’ is that if they seek election for both, it could be used against them when things start to get all Shakespearean on the campaign trail.

This fear may keep most of our elected parish pump politicians out of the race. Not all of them though, some of them there will be no holding back and more power to them.

Helen O’Donnell launched her campaign this week, options having been fully weighed, adding her name to the list of DEM hopefuls as an Independent candidate. With strong country connections and ties with the McManus clan, she could be a real contender.

Most of those who fancy their chances as DEM are either sworn to secrecy or busy burying the skeletons in the cupboard at the minute. I am tired of saying it, but they would want to get the skates on.

Hopefully the lack of enthusiasm out there so far isn’t a bad omen for what’s to come. 10 years on from the amalgamation of Limerick City and County Councils and they are still ruing the day, so let’s hope that another colossal change in the pecking order of things in Merchant’s Quay won’t be the affront that sends the cute hoors round the twist completely.

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