Mechanic in dispute with closed theatre to go before people

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Well known city mechanic Michael Daly is seeking election to Limerick City and County Council when the election comes around next summer. He says the current council is 'dysfunctional', and has allowed Limerick to become 'the Liverpool of Ireland'. Picture: Adrian Butler
A city garage owner who has been locked in a dispute with the now-closed Belltable theatre is to run in next year’s local elections.

A city garage owner who has been locked in a dispute with the now-closed Belltable theatre is to run in next year’s local elections.

Michael Daly, who runs his garage business in a laneway off Mallow Street has been in dispute with the Belltable theatre since it reopened following a refurbishment.

He believes his business has been adversely affected by the renovations, and had worked late through many performances at the theatre.

Although criticised by many for disrupting performances due to the noise, he has always claimed that is entitled to operate from the premises at the times he wishes - and never sets out to cause disruption.

Now, Mr Daly has confirmed he is throwing his hat into the ring at next summer’s local election for the newly merged local authority.

He will run as an Independent candidate in City North, a ward which takes in his home place of Farranshone. Mr Daly believes he can capitalise on a drop in support for Fine Gael and Labour – as well as a general disappointment the electorate feel at the current City Council.

“In my opinion, the council we have is dysfunctional. They are not strong enough to do anything for the city. This city is becoming like the Liverpool of Ireland: we are being starved of everything in this city. It all just seems to be about Dublin,” Mr Daly said.

Mr Daly’s reference to Liverpool is based on the decline the British city saw, particularly under the government of the late Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Since then, however, Liverpool has enjoyed major investment.

Mr Daly feels that party rivals for a seat on the northside are inhibited in what they can do.

“Fine Gael can only do what the government tell them what to do. We have no voice in Limerick – we are not strong enough to do anything.

“We have become worse off in the last five years. This has to mean there is something wrong with the council,” Mr Daly added.

He says he has already started canvassing on the northside, and has received pledges of support.

Asked how confident he was of being elected, he said: “I am fairly confident. Unless the people are telling me lies – it is time for change”.

He said that, if elected, he will put pressure on the city’s unelected officials to act, saying he does not feel they have done enough in recent years, saying: “If I wasn’t doing my job correctly, I would be sacked. So I think these people need to be changed, because they are not doing their jobs properly.”

His priorities would be to deliver services to the northside.

“We have no amenities. We had a swimming pool, and they sold it off. It was opposite the Ardhu Ryan Bar. They are closing everything down. We need a lot of things out here. The Thomond Weir, for example, has sat idle for 30 years,” he said.

Keen sports fan Mr Daly said he is a big fan of the arts, pointing out in 1981, he sponsored the appointment of the Belltable Arts Centre’s first director Brid Dukes.

On the issue of the Belltable – which closed due to mounting debts last Christmas – he said the directors made a mistake in not moving to the Jesuit’s Church at the Crescent before it was bought up by the Institute of Christ the King.

Mr Daly is likely to run against Labour councillor Tom Shortt, who he has clashed with on a number of occasions over noise at the theatre.

He said: “I wouldn’t be worried about him at all. Everyone is entitled to run, and I look forward to the challenge”.

If elected, he will ensure he is accessible to constituents.

“What we want is some openness. I want to be able to ring my councillor and for them to be able to answer the phone. That is not the case now,” he concluded.