LIMERICK city councillors have strongly criticised a county member after he said City Hall should be converted into courtroom space.
Askeaton-based Fianna Fail councillor Kevin Sheahan said when the two authorities merge, they should convert City Hall into courtroom space, and move the headquarters to County Hall in Dooradoyle.
His comments go against the recommendations in the Department of Environment’s report on reform of local government, which has suggested that the seat of the new joint Limerick authority is “likely” to be City Hall, not County Hall.
And since the comments, a number of county councillors have privately distanced themselves from his remarks.
In fact, plans are already in place to move the courtroom to Mulgrave Street.
Northside councillor Kevin Kiely said because of this “Cllr Sheahan does not know what he is talking about.”
“There are a lot of sour grapes with some of the county councillors. It is obvious with the merging of the authorities, more of the emphasis will be on the city. All you have to do is look at the example where, on Monday, councillors were upset the manager left. They are afraid to come into the city, because some of them will probably get lost,” Cllr Kiely said.
Southside councillor Jim Long suggested that the courthouse be moved to County Hall instead.
“Now he has acknowledged and accepted there is a problem with the courthouse, I would contend County Hall is the appropriate location for it. But I welcome his support that the court house is an impediment on our city buildings. I would ask him to consolidate his support for the removal of it.”
He accused Cllr Sheahan of “pandering to the public gallery” to suggest “we should dispose of the most historic building and what is stands for, in the country.”
“He is making noise about something that will not happen, but I wish him well in every other venture he seeks to go about,” Cllr Long concluded.
Cllr Orla McLoughlin said she can see the logic of housing some of the administration functions in Dooradoyle - but the “beauty” of City Hall should carry the day.
“We would be very hard pushed to find a building as beautifully located and as aesthetically pleasing as the current City Hall. There is something quite majestic from a Limerick person’s point of view when you stand in front of it,” she added.
“But it is indicative of how little respect they have for City Hall, which is a monumental building, a landmark facility which everybody recognises.”