Council Affairs: History will be made

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

RIGHT at the very start of Limerick’s City of Culture year in 2014, things took a real ugly turn and we made national headlines for all the wrong reasons.

There was more talk in the opening weeks of our big moment in the spotlight over what was deemed an “unholy mess”, with the departure of the festival’s artistic director, than the arts and culture offering itself.

It all went arse over elbow and proceedings got off on a real bitter note that lingered long after the initial ruckus — only two weeks into our 12-month reign as National City of Culture.

Karl Wallace, who was artistic director, resigned in theatrical style due to the board’s failure to sanction funding for the Royal de Luxe group’s Giant Granny visit to the Treaty City. The council was left with egg on its face.

It wasn’t pretty and, although granny ultimately saved the day, the damage was already done and the event was soured before the old dear could drop her drawers to urinate on O’Connell Street.

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This is definitely not something we want to see repeated as Limerick takes the spotlight once more as the first city to directly elect a mayor this June — neither the dropping of the drawers nor the unsightly shambles played out on RTÉ for the first few months of 2014.

But Limerick has a real opportunity here, once again, to lead the way as pioneers and show other counties how it can be done.

We can hold our heads high by making a success of the new mayoral role. Or, alternatively, we can take our jumped up small town notions of being a cosmopolitan city and go back to the Dark Ages with them as Limerick becomes nothing more than a shabby graveyard for biscuit tin statuettes of those lucky enough to make their fortunes elsewhere.

And the only way this will happen is by appointing the right person for the job. John Kiely isn’t available, so get over it. But there are some really strong candidates running for the lucrative position and now is the time to start getting familiar with the players on the field.

The feedback we are getting from candidates at the moment is that many people are totally oblivious to the fact we go to the polls next month to elect a mayor for Limerick. Many campaigners, rather than canvassing for their candidate, are explaining on the doorsteps what the new role entails and the powers that come with it. And that’s a real shame they have to be the ones to do that.

This is an opportunity for real change, a break from the tokenism, Mickey Mouse statues, and the dog’s dinner that was the O’Connell Street Revitalisation Project.

Get acquainted with the candidates and their policies, and let’s go out there next month to ensure that this doesn’t end up another City of Culture blunder to drag our fine city into the headlines in the red tops.

As the slogan says, history will be made one way or the other.

For more information on the role and functions of the historic new mayoral role, visit