Limerick council threatened with legal action over bridge renaming

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

At Friday's meeting, Mayor Kathleen Leddin inspects the legal letter. City official Eugene Griffin watches on. Picture: Brian Arthur/ Press 22.
LIMERICK City Council has been threatened with legal action if they reverse the proposed renaming of the Shannon Bridge.

LIMERICK City Council has been threatened with legal action if they reverse the proposed renaming of the Shannon Bridge.

A special meeting ground to a halt on Friday after solicitors acting for Cllr Pat Kennedy indicated that he would start legal proceedings if plans to rename the bridge in honour of John F Kennedy were not upheld.

Members opposed to the change ordered the meeting, and a full debate was expected to take place, with councillor Diarmuid Scully to suggest a referendum on the subject, or for to the renaming to be put on ice until after the local elections.

However, the letter from O’Connell and Clarke solicitors said they did not feel it was “either appropriate or prudent to entertain referring the proposed renaming of the bridge to the public”.

Although councillors voted through a motion on the bridge’s future 7-6, Cllr Scully argued this motion could not literally be taken to mean the endorsement of a renaming.

But the solicitors said that if this decision is “interfered with”, Cllr Kennedy would start proceedings.

“This may include, inter alia, an application for an injunction, and/or an application for the High Court to judicially review any such decision,” the letter added.

Council official Eugene Griffin suggested the meeting be adjourned to allow the authority time to seek a legal response to the “complex legal” issues raised.

This prompted an outburst from a large proportion of a 25-strong audience who had gathered in opposition to the renaming of the bridge, as well as councillors.

Cllr Scully described his former party colleague’s actions in bringing in a solicitor’s letter as a “denial” of democracy, and something he had never seen in his years in politics.

One of the public at the meeting Michael Punch, Patrickswell, thinks it is “ridiculous” to rename the Shannon Bridge after JFK.

“Why should we name it after an American president who did not really do anything for our city, when there are so many who have done things for Limerick” he asked.

But Michael Leech, O’Connell Avenue disagreed: “It might attract some of the Kennedy family to the city, and the entourage they would bring.”