Council Affairs: Moran makes history in Limerick, now the real work starts

History was made this past week by Mayor Elect John Moran. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

HISTORY, it would seem, has been made. After a five-year-long road to get here, Limerick has voted in the country’s first ever directly-elected mayor (DEM).

And while I, in these pages, have been at least one of the most regularly published critics of the pitfalls and potential potholes in the road for this historic role, I also celebrate the momentous first (in a week of momentous firsts) for Limerick.

Sadly for 14 out of our 15 possible mayoral candidates, it wasn’t to be. There can only be one head honcho in Merchant’s Quay and, after 12 counts, the right person for the job was finally elected, or so we hope. Time will certainly tell and we hope for a good innings for our new big cheese.

But the man in the big mayor’s hat for the next five years is… drum roll please… Move over Dr Pat Daly, there’s a new boss in town, John Moran is our new commander-in-chief.

The former Land Development Agency boss and secretary general of the Department of Finance is the man that boldly said he would put an end to the housing crisis if elected DEM. So no pressure like.

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He also said very early on as he announced his interest in the role that he would work day and night for Limerick to match its potential.

Our new mayor, the man with the housing plan, has a grand vision for a more liveable, healthy, and prosperous Limerick. So, again, no pressure at all.

Moran believes the housing crisis in Limerick can be solved by scaling, planning, financing, and building all the housing we need – and installing modular builds as an interim as we get back on our feet. Limerick, he maintains – in his impressive mayoral plan with mores pages than Alexander Hamilton could shake a quill at – needs to secure land for and build tens of thousands of homes in the medium to longer-term.

“I am even described as radical when I recommend that affordable housing needs to be 20 to 25 per cent of total housing stock. Better regulation is important to ensure renters are not taken advantage of. But an even better way is government control of rental properties on a large scale,” he explained.

His mayoral plan, he suggests, will prepare state lands and growth towns like Foynes and Newcastle West for much greater building of housing. It proposes zoning and acquiring additional lands to meet much higher demand.

“My plan is to quickly build the amenities and infrastructure in lands across the city and county and redirect Limerick 2030 to build homes in county towns which the LDA overlooks,” the former LDA boss said.

The Mungret-Patrickswell man also believes that we should show the rest of Ireland how this new role can work, how it will work, and “how it must work if we are to understand and grasp the opportunities that this historic reform gives us”.

“That has to start with visible and strict demarcation and greater transparency in the areas of budget, contracts, lobbying, and careful control of who sits on different boards, especially when dealing with organisations contracting with or in receipt of funds from the local authority,” Moran recently declared.

A promise made is a debt unpaid. All eyes will now be on Limerick and John Moran. He will be held to account and reminded of the promises he has made over the last number months. And good luck to him, it’s a role he campaigned long and hard for, now let’s hope he makes it soar.