Limerick councillors at war over youth centre

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Cllr Tom Shortt and Cllr John Gilligan in happier times
NORTHSIDE Labour councillor Tom Shortt has described John Gilligan’s criticism of him at Monday’s council meeting as “a typical outburst of political thuggery”.

NORTHSIDE Labour councillor Tom Shortt has described John Gilligan’s criticism of him at Monday’s council meeting as “a typical outburst of political thuggery”.

Independent councillor Gilligan accused Cllr Shortt of engaging in a “character assassination” of the Ballynanty community in his support for the youth service facility in Ballynanty.

Councillors cleared the way for the youth service to build in the heart of the Ballynanty estate by 11 votes to five at Monday’s meeting.

It represents the final planning hurdle the youth service has had to clear, after city planners and An Bord Pleanala backed their proposals.

But Cllr Gilligan said the campaign had left a “bad taste in the mouth” and it is the role of the council now to “build bridges” with the Ballynanty community.

He turned his ire on Cllr Shortt, saying: “Tom Shortt has been playing political football with this. Not once was he objective with it. He has insulted people and spread confusion.”

However, Cllr Shortt – who did not address the meeting other than to propose the motion be voted through unanimously – hit back this Wednesday. “Cllr Gilligan will be remembered for voting against and opposing the Youth Centre, a facility that families and teenagers want. [He] never let the truth stand in the way of making a dramatic contribution in the Council chamber,” he said. Referring directly to the charge of “character assassination”, Cllr Shortt said: “Again John Gilligan cynically misrepresented what I had said originally that I was critical of the double standards of one of the leaders of the campaign.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Shortt has also written to city manager Conn Murray seeking a review of how he feels the Joint Policing Committee has been “mismanaged” by the local authority.

He resigned from this forum in protest at what he sees as the suppressing of a garda diversion report by chairman, Cllr Michael Hourigan.

But Cllr Hourigan – who voted No – said: “Looking back over the battle, I am confident I did the right thing.”

He said the saga “should never have happened.

“The stakeholders must share an awful lot of responsibility on this. There was no communication, and no dialogue with the community,” he added.