Political row in Limerick over key transport job

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Political row in Limerick over key transport job

The €6,000-a-year role as chairman of the Transport and Travel committee is under dispute

A POLITICAL row has been reignited among parties on the left of Limerick City and County Council over a lucrative committee chairmanship.

A pact between Sinn Fein and the Labour party broke down last year over the €6,000-a-year role as chairman of the Transport and Travel committee.

It was held by Sinn Fein’s Maurice Quinlivan, who has since been elected to Dail Eireann, but was meant to switch to Labour’s Frankie Daly last summer.

However, Mr Quinlivan declined to vacate the seat, claiming Cllr Daly reneged on a seperate agreement involving a role on the board of the Paul Partnership. He has remained in situ.

But following Mr Quinlivan’s elevation to higher office, the position came up again for election, with Labour councillor Frankie Daly securing the backing of his own party, plus Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to take the role.

Cllr O Ceallaigh – who had been nominated for the role by his own party – has accused Labour of acting like “vultures”.

But Labour councillor Joe Leddin said “a wrong has now been righted”, adding the ruling parties were “more than willing” to back his party after he explained the history.

Cllr O Ceallaigh said: “It just goes to show the three amigos [FG, FF and Labour] are back in action. This was a Sinn Fein position which was obtained democratically, but unfortunately the vultures swooped in and how have a monopoly over all committee positions.”

However, Cllr Leddin said Mr Quinlivan had secured the position with Labour’s support.

“That support was contingent upon Sinn Fein reciprocating that a year later to allow a Labour councillor to become chairman. But for whatever reasons, they decided not to honour the agreement and Maurice retained the chairmanship of that committee,” he said.

He claimed that perhaps Cllr O Ceallaigh was not aware of the agreement and is “feeling a little bit hurt”.

“I think it was made very clear to them last week they were not going to win the vote because they had done an injustice. And that injustice was righted very simply,” Cllr Leddin concluded.

Cllr O Ceallaigh was proposed for the role by his party colleague Cllr Seamus Browne, and was backed by the four other Sinn Fein members present, plus Independent councillors John Loftus and John Gilligan.

However, the Anti-Austerity Alliance councillors Cian Prendiville and Paul Keller abstained.

Cllr O Ceallaigh turned fire on the AAA, saying their actions “show they are not a progressive party, and will not work with other councillors of the left to bring about a change in Limerick”.

Their actions, he said, are “disappointing”, accusing them of “burying their heads in the sand while the establishment parties group together to control the council and the roles involved as a councillor.”

However, Cllr Prendiville said can’t understand why his Sinn Fein rival is criticising AAA.

”I’m sure Cllr O Ceallaigh is upset at not getting the promotion, but I don't see how this has anything to do with the AAA. We were never part of the Labour/Sinn Fein pact.”

Cllr Daly declined to comment on the row, only saying: “I’m delighted to be heading up the travel and transportation committee. I will do the best I can for the people.”