Stephen Keary overwhelmingly elected as new Mayor of Limerick

Councillor pledges to be mayor for all people of Limerick after controversy

Nick Rabbitts reports from County Hall

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Nick Rabbitts reports from County Hall

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Stephen Keary overwhelmingly elected as new Mayor of Limerick

Incoming Mayor of Limerick Cllr Stephen Keary with his predecessor Kieran O'Hanlon at the ceremony Picture: Press 22

FINE Gael's Croagh based councillor Stephen Keary has been elected as Mayor of Limerick City and County.

The Adare/Rathkeale area member secured the chain of office after winning 27 votes at the AGM of the local authority this afternoon.

His election comes as part of an deal with Fianna Fail which has seen the two biggest parties share the top positions on the council.

The run up to the election was marred by comments made by Cllr Keary suggesting an influx of Eastern Europeans are targetting Ireland as an "easy target" to claim social welfare.

But speaking upon taking the chain of office, Cllr Keary pledged to be a mayor for all the people of Limerick.

"I know some media reports in the last fortnight may have portrayed me in a different light and again, as I have said already, I sincerely apologise to those people to whom my comments have caused offence."

There was a number of people present to demonstrate against the civil engineers’ election prior to the ceremony.

Polish national Nikola Kaluzynska, who organised the demonstration, said: “A lot of people have veen bery upset about this. I have heard a lot of Irish, Hungarian people seriously offended. We don't want him representing us as mayor. We don't think the same way as him.”

Despite this, the grand coalition remained firm to deliver the fourth mayoralty of this council to Cllr Keary, the father-in-law of Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan.

There were also nominations for Sinn Fein councillor John Costelloe, and Cllr Paul Keller.

Cllr Keary added: “It is the ultimate privelege to be elected the first citizen of Limerick, the fourth mayor of this amalgamaged authority. It is my ambition to harness the positives and be a representative of all sectors of society.”

He also again apologised for “any offence” for comments which have attracted a petition of almost 2,000 people to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar calling for his removal as a mayoral candidate.

Meanwhile, fellow Fine Gael councillor Marian Hurley, Annacotty, has been elected as deputy mayor.

She beat off competition from Moldovan national Cllr Elena Secas – who was nominated by Sinn Fein, and Cllr Paul Keller.

Cllr Keary becomes the fourth mayor of Limerick City and County, following in the footsteps of Cllrs Kevin Sheahan, Liam Galvin and Kieran O'Hanlon.

The mayor of the metropolitan district, Cllr Sean Lynch of Fianna Fail was elected on Friday night.