ASKEATON’S Cllr Kevin Sheahan has been elected the first chairman of Limerick City and County Council at a historic meeting at University Concert Hall this Friday.
The veteran Fianna Fail councillor received 27 of the 40 votes, winning the support of all Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members as well as Independents Bridget Teefy and Emmett O’Brien. Sinn Fein’s Cllr Maurice Quinlivan got 10 votes with the support of Labour and Independent Cllr John Gilligan while the three Anti-Austerity Alliance councillors backed Cllr Paul Keller.
Cllr Sheahan recalled that it was 18 years ago that “very much on my own”, he had first mooted the idea of a combined Limerick City and County Council.
On the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Cllr Sheahan said “there are many people all over the world celebrating D-Day, a change from the way the world was drifting and bringing it back to the way things should be”.
June 6 also represented an auspicious day for the cathaoirleach himself - his wedding anniversary - and he surprised his wife Caroline by presenting her with a bouquet of flowers on the stage of the concert hall.
In his tribute to Cllr Sheahan, Cllr Gilligan said the Fianna Fail person was somebody who had often surprised him with his forthright views.
And he had sprung another surprise in getting his hands on the chain of office.
“I never knew you were so popular with Fine Gael,” said Cllr Gilligan.
There had been “much talk of weddings” (of Limerick City and County Councils) at the meeting but to Cllr Gilligan it “seems more like a wake” after the government had refused the city a boundary extension and “consigned to the museum” the ancient emblems of office of Limerick City Council.
Cllr Quinlivan said it was also historic to see the two large conservative parties finally ally together and dispense with the spectacle of one or the other of them “pretending to be something it was not in order to pose as some kind of opposition”.
There was now a real left-leaning opposition on the council, Cllr Quinlivan said.
One of that number, the AAA’s Cllr Cian Prendiville, regretted that all the late-night negotiations of recent days centred on who from the two biggest parties “would get the nice office or the chain around his neck”.
The AAA would focus over the next five years on the issues that had got them elected, including water taxes and the housing crisis.