Mayor Moran pledges to prioritise law and order issues in wake of unprovoked attack on woman in Limerick

Mayor John Moran was inaugurated in a ceremony at St Mary's Cathedral. Photo: John Moran.

ON HIS first day on the job, Limerick’s first directly-elected mayor, John Moran, vowed to work to help make his adoptive Limerick City a safer place, citing a court case which heard a local woman was savagely beaten unconscious in the city by a serving member of the Defence Forces.

Limerick was plunged into shock this week when details emerged of how army private Cathal Crotty had punched Natasha O’Brien six times in her head two years ago after she had politely asked him to stop shouting homophobic slurs at two other men on O’Connell Street, the city’s main thoroughfare.

The 24-year-old Limerick woman had bravely spoken out about her disappointment that Crotty (22), from Ardnacrusha, County Clare, walked free from court last Wednesday after receiving a fully suspended three-year sentence at Limerick Circuit Court.

During his official inauguration as the inaugural directly-elected Mayor of Limerick City and County, and as the first openly gay mayor of Limerick, Mr Moran fought back tears speaking about out his vision for a safer Limerick in light of the attack on Ms O’Brien.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr Moran again held back tears and said he had become emotional because “a couple of people in the audience I know, we had some news yesterday of another person who was attacked, and (there was) the court case”.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

“I think we all want a city and county that is safe. I think it is really important you’ve got to remember (this) moment, and just imagining what things were like for those people when they were walking home,” Mr Moran said.

“It’s going to be a huge priority for me to really get on top of that issue.”

Becoming emotional during his speech, he said he hoped people “can always feel welcome, whoever they may be, regardless of where they come from, who they choose to love, or whatever their religious beliefs”.

“I want to see a Limerick where they, like others, can enjoy the amenities of our great county, without fear anymore, as they walk home late from work.”

The former Wall Street lawyer, investment banker, and secretary general at the Department of Finance told reporters it was “of course, significant” that he was Limerick’s first openly gay mayor, “but what is more significant is nobody is talking about it”.

“What I have found really interesting, is that on our (new) council we have three members of the LGBT community, we have immigrants who haven’t been born in Limerick, including myself, and I think that’s what is really significant for me is that the people of Limerick no longer see those kind of divisions. That’s a really super statement of how Limerick has progressed as a place for everybody to live and to call home.”

Dressed in ceremonial robes and led by a piper, the English-born history maker spoke of a “new energy and a new confidence in the air” before he walked from the cathedral, and across a rainbow-painted pedestrian crossing to City Hall.

At the conclusion of the official ceremony, local schoolchildren Shaheer Ghaffer, Sean Fitzgerald, and Tia Costelloe were handed the mayor’s microphone and asked him a very important question.

“Will you diligently perform the responsibilities entrusted to you and serve the people of Limerick to the best of your ability?,” they asked.

Shaking their hands, the new mayor replied: “I will”.

As well as focusing on law and order, Mr Moran pledged he would also use part of a €40million budget under his control to help do what he could to tackle the city’s capacity crises in housing and hospital beds.

Later on, the Mayor led the 40 recently elected members of the council in the first formal meeting of the new-look joint-local authority.