Limerick politican claims Policing Committee is ‘run as a dictatorship’

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Cllr Tom Shortt has accused Cllr Michael Hourigan of running the city Joint Policing Committee like a "dictatorship"
LABOUR councillor Tom Shortt has accused northside rival councillor Michael Hourigan of running the Joint Policing Committee as a “dictatorship”.

LABOUR councillor Tom Shortt has accused northside rival councillor Michael Hourigan of running the Joint Policing Committee as a “dictatorship”.

The two councillors have been at loggerheads after Cllr Shortt initially called on Cllr Hourigan to resign from the committee - which meets on a quarterly basis to provide a forum for politicians, gardai and other statutory agencies to discuss and devise policies in relation to crime in the city.

Councillor Shortt is accusing the Fine Gael councillor of “overruling” the city’s most senior garda, chief superintendent David Sheahan.

Referring to a meeting in October 2012, Cllr Shortt said: “The facts are, I requested a report from the Gardai on Garda Diversion Projects in Limerick City. Chief superintendent Dave Sheahan responded and gave a commitment that a full report would be provided at the next meeting in March 2013. He named the Sergeant who would deliver the report,” he explained.

However, he added: “I saw sufficient evidence to satisfy me that Cllr Hourigan overruled the Gardai, council officials and members of the JPC and blocked that report from being included on the agenda of the JPC meetings held in March and April.”

Cllr Shortt said he wanted the report on the projects in a bid to demonstrate to those against a controversial youth centre project in Ballynanty that it would be a good scheme for the area.

With councillors set to vote on whether to give the land the Limerick Youth Service at its first meeting of 2013-14, Cllr Shortt feels Cllr Hourigan’s actions were deliberate.

“It is entirely unacceptable that for almost a year he has blocked the delivery of this report, and discussion of the role of the Gardai in the management of the project at the very forum where it would be most appropriate to debate those issues. As far as I am concerned, Cllr Hourigan has abused his position,” he said.

He maintained an earlier accusation that Cllr Shortt had lost the confidence of the gardai.

But Cllr Hourigan rejected this, saying: “No senior Garda has ever expressed any concern to me about my method of chairing the Joint Policing Committee, and indeed, I would be very surprised if they were privately expressing those views to Cllr Shortt in order he could convey them publicly.”