LIMERICK will once again elect two mayors after councillors voted to protect the centuries old title of the city’s first citizen.
At this month’s city district meeting, Cllr Joe Leddin put forward a notice of motion seeking to abolish the title of metropolitan mayor.
To replace this, he wanted a title of Cathaoirleach of the metropolitan district.
However, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Independent councillor John Gilligan combined to vote down the Labour leader’s motion.
Since last November, Limerick has had two mayors after Cllr Kevin Sheahan saw his role as Cathaoirleach upgraded.
Cllr Michael Sheahan then became known as the metropolitan district mayor.
Cllr Leddin - a former mayor himself - said: “I have been uneasy ever since [this change] because of the respect I have for the office of mayor. It is an internationally recognised title. I have had people come to me asking what are we doing? I do not think we can go forward having two mayors. We will not be doing justice to the two office-holders”.
He insisted he was not trying to consign the history to the bin, saying: “No-one can take our history away. It is written in stone. But we are in a new era in the local authority. If we are going to do justice to the title and office of mayor, we should elect just one”.
However, Cllr Gilligan disagreed saying: “These are actually the reasons why we should keep the title of mayor in the city. As an ancient historic city, this is something we should be proud of. There is no reason just because someone got it wrong, we should abolish the mayoralty”.
He said it was “one of the most embarrassing moments of my life” to see current metropolitan mayor Michael Sheahan marginalised when President Michael D Higgins received the Freedom of Limerick.
“Any other person would have made a huge spectacle of it, and you to your credit, remained silent,” he told Mayor Sheahan.
Anti-Austerity alliance councillor Cian Prendiville said his party will abstain from the vote.
“This is just boys and their toys in reality. It is a distraction from the key issues”.
Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan said the current set-up of two mayors makes Limerick appear “a laughing stock”.
While the AAA abstained, Mayor Sheahan voted in favour of keeping the metropolitan mayoralty.
He was joined by Cllrs James Collins, Maria Byrne, Daniel Butler, Sean Lynch, Michael Hourigan, Joe Crowley, Shane Clifford, Marian Hurley, John Gilligan and Jerry O’Dea, who is odds onto be the next metropolitan mayor this Friday night.
Cllr Quinlivan joined his party colleagues Cllr Malachy McCreesh and Séighin Ó Ceallaigh voting against the plan.
As Labour councillor Frankie Daly was absent at the time of the vote, Cllr Leddin could only rely on the support of his colleague Elena Secas.
“We will be electing a mayor on Friday night,” declared Cllr Sheahan triumpantly.
The metropolitan mayoral election will take place this Friday night from 7pm onwards.