Mayoral election set to be moved away from Limerick council HQ

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick.rabbitts@limerickleader.ie

Mayoral election set to be moved away from Limerick council HQ

It was back in 2014 when the council last met away from its premises at Merchant’s Quay and Dooradoyle. Then, University Concert Hall played host to the inaugural meeting of City and County Council 

LIMERICK City and County Council is set to move its annual mayoral election ceremony to a bigger venue in order to satisfy social distancing requirements.

The annual general meeting, which is a festive day for family and friends ot the person lucky enough to secure the mayoralty, normally takes place at County Hall in Dooradoyle during the month of June.

However, this year, with a need for people to remain two metres apart, a much larger venue will need to be used.

Sources have indicated Thomond Park and the University Concert Hall (UCH) are two particular venues which council bosses have considered.

Back in June 2014, UCH was the venue for the inaugural meeting of Limerick City and County Council.

Fianna Fail councillor Michael Collins, who is his party’s candidate for the mayoralty this year, said: “It can be done. I know we have venues large enough to manage a meeting like this. We just need a bit of joined up thinking.”

He added: “The council is working with the department to put in place measures so we can have a full council meeting in safety, with social distancing. The challenge for Limerick is we are a large local authority of 40 members. It's easier for the smaller local authorities which might have 16 members to socially distance. We need to get a venue big enough that we can do it in safely and ensure no people are risk.”

Fine Gael’s metropolitan leader, Cllr Daniel Butler added: “We've been exploring ideas for the last while. The direction from government is that any statutory items which need to be covered, you need to be physically there in order to make the decision because there's a reference to place in the legislation. For non-statutory items we can meet remotely.”

He said “all options are open” for the June annual general meeting.

Fianna Fail councillor Eddie Ryan says he has had 10 meetings using video-conferencing technology on the internet, and has been able to get a limited amount of business done.

“We're getting bits of business done, nothing major. In the municipal district we had a lot of hard decisions already made. The GMA and all those things are in place waiting for council workers to get back into full swing. We hope that will happen on May 18,” he said.

He said his understanding is the mayoral election must take place by June 30.

A council spokesperson confirmed virtual briefings have been taking place, with all physical meetings of the authority postponed due to the pandemic.

“Our primary responsibility with regards to meetings is the health and safety of councillors, staff and members of the media/ public who wish to attend meetings,” they said, “A further decision on meetings will take place after May 18, the date that phase one of the re-opening of society and business is due to begin.”