A VOTE has been narrowly passed by councillors in Limerick city to rename the Shannon bridge as the John F Kennedy Bridge in honour of the US president’s ties with the city, amid opposition from the public and fellow city councillors.
The proposal by Independent councillor Pat Kennedy was passed at a protocol meeting - which was closed to the public and media - this Tuesday morning by a narrow vote of 7-6.
Fine Gael councillor Diarmuid Scully put forward a counter proposal to adjourn any decision on the renaming of the bridge and Merchant’s Quay - which was also renamed as Brian Boru Square by unanimous vote - until after the local elections in May.
He had argued that a protocol committee should be set up under the joint local authority to adjudicate on the renaming of any Limerick landmarks.
Of the 17 city councillors, 13 were present and standing orders dictate that 12 members of the council are required for a vote to be carried.
Cllr Scully, who voted against the proposal to rename Shannon bridge, noted that there had been a lot of letters in support of the bridge’s renaming, including a petition with 51 signatures.
He is among a number of councillors who have made their opposition to renaming the bridge known.
The decision to rename Merchant’s Quay as Brian Boru Square took five minutes, while the vote on the JFK bridge took an hour to pass, the Limerick Leader understands.
Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan, Fine Gael councillors Jim Long and Denis McCarthy were among the six to vote against the proposal to rename the bridge.
Cllr Kennedy had argued that JFK had close ancestral ties with Limerick, was a Freeman of Limerick and also visited the city during his 1963 trip to Ireland.
He pointed out that President Kennedy had planned to visit again, until his tragic assassination in November 1963.
Cllr Kennedy said he believed the council now has a “marvellous” chance to honour JFK, and in doing so, forge a historic link with Mayor Frances Condell, who welcomed the president to the Greenpark racecourse in Limerick on June 29, 1963, as the bridge connects with the Condell Road.
This year also marks the 1000th Brian Ború’s death following his victory over the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf. The King of Munster and the last great High King of Ireland was also born on the banks of the River Shannon at nearby Killaloe.
The public were invited to make submissions on the proposals, and these were considered at the meeting. Some called for the bridge to be named after Frank McCourt, Richard Harris, Willie O’Dea, or Des O’Malley.
Others called the JFK name change “lazy and oleaginous”.
Independent councillor John Gilligan earlier disclosed his support for Merchant’s Quay to be named.
“After all it was the Vikings that founded this city, but it was Brian Boru that built the city, including the magnificent cathedral that we have,” he argues.
“I think it’s much more appropriate to have it called after someone of relevance to the city, from a historical point of view. Everybody has heard of Brian Boru, so it is a name that means something, whereas Merchant’s Quay means nothing,” he added.
- For more reaction see Wednesday’s Limerick Leader