Councillors row over Limerick youth centre as vote nears

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Cllr Tom Shortt (right) has likened Cllr Maurice Quinlivan to a 'parish pump politician' in the row over the location of a youth centre in Ballynanty
AS a key vote approaches on whether the Youth Service can build in Ballynanty, a furious row has developed between two councillors.

AS a key vote approaches on whether the Youth Service can build in Ballynanty, a furious row has developed between two councillors.

Limerick Youth Service want to build a multi-level youth centre on a green space in the shadow of Thomond Park. They have been given €1.8m to develop by the JP McManus foundation.

Although they have cleared all the planning hurdles, it is up to councillors whether the land can be disposed of, on a 65-year lease to the youth service.

This item is up for discussion at this afternoon’s meeting in City Hall, with the outcome believed to be too close to call.

Two of the main protagonists in the yes and no campaign have traded barbs over the weekend, with northside councillor Maurice Quinlivan accusing Cllr Tom Shortt of trying to “bully” residents.

This came after Cllr Shortt accused Cllr Quinlivan of “turning out to be just another populist, parish pump politician like Willie O’Dea.” He said: “His opposition to investing in a centre for youth to help lift them out of poverty and disadvantage is evidence of a politician programmed for protest, and unable to shift fear to support positive change and progress in the community.”

The Ballynanty Residents Opposition committee meanwhile, have said Cllr Shortt “needs to back now before he finds himself in serious trouble.”

This came after the Labour member accused the group of “hypocrisy and double standards”.

Referring to the St Munchin’s Community Centre, where the No campaign meets, he believes it is inappropriate they go there, because it was part-funded by JP McManus.

However, in a statement, the committee said they pay for the use of the hall.

And in a strongly worded response, Cllr Quinlivan accused his rival of having “a Messiah complex”.

Pointing out that all he has done is insist the local community be consulted, Cllr Quinlivan said: “Cllr Shortt has single handedly managed to turn a routine planning matter into one of the most divisive issues ever to arise in Limerick between City Council, Youth Service and Ballynanty residents.”

He said his behaviour “will leave the nasty smell of mistrust” for a long time.

“He should realise he has merely the privilege of being a city councillor, and is not some kind of dictator. It is probably too late to realise that he should be spending time working on the ground rather than writing press releases,” he said.