LABOUR councillor and Munster and Ireland rugby legend Gerry ‘Ginger’ McLoughlin is likely to become the 816th Mayor of Limerick this Monday after Fine Gael agreed a new deal for the first citizenship.
Veteran southside councillor Pat Kennedy had been widely expected to become Mayor of Limerick for a third time at Monday night’s annual general meeting.
But this Wednesday, after party members expressed concern over the fact Cllr Kennedy had failed to address local councillors on thousands of euro in mileage claims he had been forced to pay back, they voted to do a deal with Labour.
Former Fine Gael councillor Kevin Kiely also indicated he would not be sticking with a previous pact in supporting Cllr Kennedy.
Under the new agreement, the first citizenship position would revert back to Fine Gael next year, with party leader Diarmuid Scully saying the door remains open to Cllr Kennedy, if he fully explains his position to party members.
The former senator was last year forced to pay back €1,700 in expenses to Limerick City Council after the car he was claiming mileage on was actually off the road.
This information came to light following a freedom of information request by the Limerick Leader. It emerged later that he repaid similar sums of money to other public bodies.
In a statement, Cllr Scully confirmed they would back the Labour party’s candidate, Cllr McLoughlin.
“We have signed an agreement with Cllr Tom Shortt, Labour’s leader on the council, whereby Fine Gael will support the Labour nominee for the Mayor of Limerick this year. In return, Labour will support the Fine Gael nomination next year,” he said.
“Both parties have agreed to work together in the interests of the people of Limerick to provide stability and certainty in this time of transition.”
He said that Fine Gael had not yet decided its nominee for the final year of the council, but the door remains open to Cllr Kennedy.
Cllr Shortt confirmed his party would be putting Cllr McLoughlin forward for election.
“We do believe he is an icon of Limerick in terms of his rugby background. He has committed to working hard as mayor over the next 12 months, should he be elected. We believe he will get support from Fine Gael,” he told the Limerick Leader.
A former Shannon, Munster and Ireland prop forward, Cllr McLoughlin is the longest serving Labour councillor not to have been mayor, following Cllr Joe Leddin’s term in 2006/07. The mayoral election takes place this Monday night at 7pm.