MAYOR of Limerick City and County Kevin Sheahan is to make a three-day visit to France next month in the hope of fostering links and partnership in the area of lace production.
With Cllr Sheahan currently on council business in America, members in his absence almost unanimously approved the latest trip to the port town of Calais.
The trip - which will cost around €1,355 - was approved despite opposition from the council’s Anti-Austerity Alliance members.
Councillors were told in a letter from senior executive officer Christy O’Connor that it is hoped that during the visit, there would “be a meeting to consider possible partnerships around the area of lace production which could have a long term economic benefit for Limerick”.
The city and county mayor will attend the inauguration of a new building in the main square of Calais, a hall for events such as concerts, and fashion events.
Cllr John Loftus asked: “There are tenuous links for jobs. The lace industry vanished from Limerick a long time ago. What is the real purpose for this trip”.
Interjecting, Fine Gael’s Bruff councillor Bill O’Donnell asked: “Is this a counter proposal, or a political speech?”
Cllr Loftus responded: “It is a question. Can you not tell the difference? He is going to open an exhibition that actually started six years ago.”
In fact, Mayor Sheahan will attend the inauguration of a different hall to the International Centre for Fashion and Lace, which opened in 2009.
Mayor Sheahan’s visit to the continent comes after the deputy mayor of Calais Pascal Pestre visited Limerick in December.
He launched the exhibition and publication ‘Amazing Lace, a History of the Limerick Lace Industry’.
Meetings were held in the hopes of fostering future co-operation around the two city’s shared lace heritage.
At the full council meeting, Cllr Cian Prendiville, AAA, called for a show of hands to decide whether to approve the trip. All but the three AAA members raised their arms in approval.