A ‘welcome to Clare’ sign greets people travelling into Shannon Banks
SINN Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh has sparked a cross-border row after resurrecting calls for the ‘Clare suburbs’ of Shannon Banks and Westbury to move into Limerick city.
During a debate on the future planning strategy of the city, the City East member, whose constituency borders parts of the Banner county, said the two suburbs – which have a population of around 5,000 people – must be brought into consideration.
“Shannon Banks and Westbury are full of people from Limerick. This border was never set in stone.
“Before, parts of Caherdavin were in Clare too,” Cllr O Ceallaigh said. “We need to sit down and have this talk. There is huge potential for development – but in Limerick. We cannot see development of the city going on within County Clare.”
Brian Thompson of St Mary’s Aid, who sits on the economics committee where the strategy was discussed, believes there is merit in what Cllr Ó Ceallaigh suggested.
However, he added: “We should be concentrating on the whole region, rather than squabbling over border disputes.”
Senior planner Maria Woods said: “We cannot ignore the fact that there are 5,000 people living in these Clare areas who are coming to Limerick City.”
Fianna Fail councillor Cathal Crowe, who represents Shannon Banks, Westbury, Meelick and Parteen in the Banner, dismissed the suggestion as “ridiculous”.
Speaking at this month’s Clare County Council meeting in Ennis, which took place on Monday, he said: “I think everyone has put this idea behind them. The reality is these areas are in Co Clare, in the curtilage of Co Clare and is administered by Clare County Council. I live in the area and have never seen Cllr O Ceallaigh there, so I’m not sure exactly what metric he is using.”
Cllr Crowe pointed out that when the issue was to the fore, there was a “groundswell” of support from locals who wanted to remain under the Banner.
“It is a non-issue now. It’s very much put to bed,” he added.
The councillor, who is seeking a Fianna Fail general election nomination in Clare, has long been opposed to any extension beyond Athlunkard Bridge.
During the same debate, Cllr O Ceallaigh also said areas like Murroe, Caherconlish and Ballyneety should be placed in the urban metropolitan district.
“These are effectively commuter towns for Limerick,” he said. “If we are serious about developing Limerick, perhaps we can extend the metropolitan district to include these areas. It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s something we need to talk about.”