Council Affairs: Candidates go toe-to-toe in DEM debate showdown

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

DON’T mind RTÉ! It was the Limerick Post, Limerick Chamber, and the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) that got the directly-elected mayor party started last week with the first live mayoral debates.

And while others out there were busy trying to stir the pot rather that join the conversation, the Limerick Post was getting stuck in to giving voters the first up close and personal look at some of the DEM hopefuls in a full 18-page feature to follow up the historic debate.

The 14 candidates that had registered for the mayoral role at the time of organising the big public showdown were all invited to take part. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Eurovision fans!

Four of them actually declined the offer, for one reason or another.

Contestant number 15, late arrival Colm Ó’Móráin, rocked up on the night anyway, but alas at that late juncture there was nothing he could do but take to YouTube in the Moylish Campus carpark to do his debating from there.

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Look, I don’t know whether fluoride in the water does cause mind control, or if Shergar does work in a chip shop in Patrickswell with Elvis. One thing I do know for certain though is that last Tuesday’s mayoral debate was a real eye opener, and entertaining with it.

Described by The Phoenix recently as “the most self-confident Limerick luminary since Richard Harris”, John Moran, who failed to set the TUS stage alight with his haughty promises, made one of the more memorable and eyebrow-raising statements of the night.

When asked what he would be remembered for at the end of his five-year term if he was elected DEM, Moran, without missing a beat, told audience members that he “will have solved the housing crisis”.

Over a decade into a housing crisis, and Moran, a former chair of the Land Development Agency no less – who have yet to deliver a single home in Limerick – was making promises more akin to a messiah than a minister.

At the other end of things, another Independent hopeful had only one thing on her mind for the next five years. Helen O’Donnell, chair of Limerick City Tidy Towns, wanted to do the Shake and Vac and put the freshness back.

Having gotten her hair done in the city the afternoon before the debate, the rundown and dirty look of the streets that she witnessed had her well and truly riled up. A pair of rubber gloves and a mop bucket and there’s no doubt that Helen would have us all spic and span and smelling like lemon zing.

”Cleaning the city is essential so people feel they are coming into somewhere that’s clean, that’s properly kept, is safe and is green,” she insisted with vim and vigour aplenty.

Independent mayoral hopeful Cllr Frankie Daly, a man who once misplaced the chains of office on his watch, spoke from the heart about his love of Limerick.

Poor old Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan was distraught listening to mammy and daddy – Dee Ryan (FF) and Cllr Daniel Butler (FG) – rowing in the kitchen. When not waiting for Tusla to come and put him into care for all the tumultuous rowing from the old pair, he was talking a good fight about kicking bureaucratic backsides in Dublin.

Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan admitted to being more Britney Spears than Taylor Swift, while her soft spoken ex, Green Party TD Brian Leddin, was setting out his stall for more trains and buses like a Rat Pack crooner at the Sands.

For all the old guff, empty promises, and big talk, Dr Laura Keyes, Rabharta’s mayoral candidate, in one single statement cut through all the nonsense and shite talk on the night.

“I have a lovely chair with a back. I am comfortable, but I needed it because I have a disability. Whereas the others are on very uncomfortable stools and did comment on how uncomfortable they were at the beginning. If we had universal design, everyone would have a stool like this and it would benefit everyone. That is what I am talking about in every single project, every single plan, every single action. Bring accessibility in first because if you design for the least able and the furthest from power, it benefits everybody,” she said.

As the man once said, “if it’s the right chair, it doesn’t take too long to get comfortable in it”.