Rift grows over chairmanship of Limerick policing committee

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Cllr Michael Hourigan
COUNCILLOR Tom Shortt is seeking to have Cllr Michael Hourigan removed as the chairman of the city’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC).

COUNCILLOR Tom Shortt is seeking to have Cllr Michael Hourigan removed as the chairman of the city’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC).

The Labour councillor is to table a motion of no confidence on his Fine Gael northside rival at the next meeting of the committee in two months.

The statutory committee, which meets on a quarterly basis, provides a forum for politicians, gardai and other statutory agencies to discuss and devise policies in relation to crime in the city.

Cllr Shortt is furious that his motion to hear a report on garda youth diversion projects in the city was dropped from the last meeting. He believes this was a deliberate move by Cllr Hourigan, who he has accused of “abusing” the role of chairman, and “frustrating” the democratic process.

However, Cllr Hourigan says that because the structures around the JPC are changing to take in all Co Limerick, it means it was not possible to hear the report at the last meeting. He insisted it will be on the agenda of the next meeting, due in two months time.

Cllr Shortt – who expects support from his party colleagues – said he feels the fact Cllr Hourigan is not supportive of a proposed youth centre in Ballynanty has influenced his decision.

It was agreed at a meeting of the JPC that the gardai would furnish councillors with a report on the various youth diversion projects it runs across the city.

But Cllr Shortt said: “Iam seriously unhappy with Michael Hourigan for obstructing and frustrating the inclusion of that item. I believe it was deliberately removed [from the agenda].”

He added: “I believe he is not a democrat, he is not serving the interests of the members and the interests of the people. I accuse him of interrupting the democratic process. This is not the role of the chairman - I believe he is not fit for the role. He is abusing it, and he should step aside.”

In a statement, Cllr Hourigan said his opposition to the youth centre should not affect the two councillors working together.

“Furthermore, can I say that in my three years of chairing the JPC in Limerick, I have always done my best to facilitate all members of the council in raising important issues,” he said.

Cllr Hourigan added this is the first time any member has taken issue with his approach.