THE councillor at the centre of the controversy over the mayor’s use of a disabled car parking space has denied his intervention was politically motivated.
Cllr Cian Prendiville, who alerted the Leader over Mayor Kevin Sheahan’s use of a disabled spot following a request from a member of the public, said the first citizen “only has himself to blame”. It came after Cllr Sheahan indicated the intervention was “political”.
The Fianna Fail mayor has come under fire this week from disability advocates, following the picture - revealed in our sister newspaper the Limerick Chronicle - captured by a disabled woman visiting County Hall.
While he has apologised on numerous occasions, he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland this Wednesday: “I would like to meet the lady - if she exists”.
Pushed on the matter, Mayor Sheahan added: “This is political. Someone took a picture and ran to the Leader with it. I have done enormous work in my time for people with disabilities and will continue to do so.”
But Cllr Prendiville - whose relationship with the mayor is frosty at best - has come out fighting, and produced the email from the lady in question.
He said: “The mayor only has himself to blame. He has dug himself into a hole here by his initial action and his subsequent attempt to criticise the person who reported him. He should stop digging. He has done a disservice to the people of Limerick, and the person who reported it has done us all a great service, and he should acknowledge that.”
At the time the incident was revealed, Mayor Sheahan said: “I do think it is a bit harsh that someone had nothing better to do than take a photograph of my car at a time when there were at least two other [disabled] spaces vacant in the same place.”
This comment led to calls on social media for his resignation.
But the main opposition party leaders on the council have stopped short of calling for his head.
Sinn Fein leader, Cllr Maurice Quinlivan said: “It was a stupid thing for him to do. People should not be parking in disabled spots. But I heard him this morning, he made a full apology, and I accept this apology is genuine.”
The leader of Fine Gael, Cllr John Sheahan, added: “It is very regretful, and I am sure Kevin as mayor will be contrite.”
Mayor Sheahan also issued a statement to the Limerick Leader this Wednesday, appealing to the women who took the photograph to come forward so he could apologise to her, face to face.
He said he would travel anywhere, and to any party of the county to do so.
Meanwhile, the mayor of the metropolitan district, Cllr Michael Sheahan, says the parking incident has seen him “unwittingly become the centre of attention”.
“Unfortunately, some people have not distinguished between the overall mayor and myself. I am quite upset by some of the calls I have received, and I am trying to clarify that I am not responsible,” the city mayor said.