CITY manager Conn Murray has urged councillors to get behind the changes that will transform local politics in Limerick in the weeks and months ahead.
Mr Murray was speaking at the historic final meeting of Limerick City Council before its merger with the county council after next month’s local elections.
It was right, said Mr Murray, that the City Council celebrate its achievements in developing Limerick over the last eight centuries and more.
“The small and struggling Limerick that received its charter from John, Lord of Ireland, in 1197 has undergone a process of continuous change from its early days as a Viking settlement to its capture by the Anglo Normans. It transformed itself from a medieval city to a Georgian metropolis and from a Victorian municipality to a 21st century economic powerhouse,” said Mr Murray.
But the merger of Limerick City and County Councils represented a new chapter and Mr Murray urged councillors who survive the local elections to play their part.
“There is an onus on every elected member and member of staff to refocus our collective approach to address the issues and embrace the opportunities faced by the city and county in the years to come to achieve excellence in public service for all the citizens of Limerick,” the manager said.
“As the philosopher Socrates said: ‘the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”
But Cllr John Gilligan urged fellow members to keep fighting the city’s corner.
“Unlike Caesar, we have come both the bury and to praise Limerick City Council,” he declared.
“This council did not die. It was murdered by the craven cowardice of a government unwilling to confront our colleagues on the county council,” said Cllr Gilligan of Minister Phil Hogan’s decision to opt for a merger rather than extend the city boundary.
“Cromwell tried to kill the city and failed but maybe Phil Hogan will succeed,” said Cllr Gilligan, urging whoever was elected next month to protect the status of the city and the office of its mayor.
Meanwhile, former minister Des O’Malley, who was one of many former councillors to attend Monday’s final meeting, said the merger made sense.
“It’s sad I think in one way. On the other hand I think the sadness is alleviated by the fact that you have now a union with the county council which is something that I think should have happened well before now.
“I think it makes sense. I think the city with its rather confined boundary was really too small. Most of the private development that has taken place in the last 30 or 40 years tended to be outside the city boundary rather than within in. And I think that contributed to the decline of the city in many ways in recent years,” said Mr O’Malley.