MULGRAVE Street publican, Cllr Jerry O’Dea, looks set to become the second metropolitan mayor of Limerick this weekend.
The Fianna Fail councillor – who was elected for the first time last summer – is expected to secure the chain of office, becoming the latest recipient of a deal with Fine Gael for the various positions on offer in the local authority.
But Cllr O’Dea will face a challenge for the position, with Sinn Fein, Labour and the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) all fielding candidates at Friday night’s election.
Both Independent councillor John Gilligan and Cllr Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein, have criticised the deal, which will see the two biggest parties secure both the mayoralty of the overall council, and the first citizenship in the metropolitan area.
Speaking this Wednesday, Cllr O’Dea said: “There has been a lot of speculation that I may be elected as mayor for the metropolitan area, and it seems to look this way at the moment. If it does come to pass, what I want is to do my best for the city and ensure the good work being done is continued.”
The metropolitan mayoral election comes against the backdrop of a bid by the Labour party to do away with the title, and have just one mayor in Limerick.
Despite this, party leader Cllr Joe Leddin confirmed his party would run a candidate - but insisted it will not be him.
He said he would hope Sinn Fein would support their candidate after Labour backed Cllr Quinlivan last year.
However, Cllr Quinlivan said that city east councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh would represent Sinn Fein.
In a strongly worded statement, the northside poll-topper said the current set up of two-mayors of something “you wouldn’t see the like of in Father Ted”.
“Once again Fianna Fail’s and Fine Gael’s greed for perks and privileges at taxpayers’ expense is making a laughing stock of Limerick politics.
“These parties, champions of austerity, have no problem with the city and county paying for two ceremonial roles and will don their respective chains at a moment’s notice to attend the opening of an envelope.
“And the tax payer is paying for all of this nonsense,” he said.
He added in the first year of the dual mayoralty it has been “embarrassing” to watch Mayor Kevin Sheahan and Mayor Michael Sheahan “striving for the first position in the order of speaking”.
One man who will not be putting his name forward is Independent councillor John Gilligan, who won the mayoralty against the odds in 2008.
He said: “It is pointless for people like me to turn up to these meetings. We know what will happen, with the shabby deal being done between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
“Remember, these are the two huge parties who in a few months time will be battling it out toe-to-toe saying ‘Don’t vote for them, vote for us’. But when it comes down to the positions on offer, they never have a problem with each other.”
The mayoral election gets under way at 7pm in City Hall on Friday night.