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11 Aug 2022

WATCH: Newly-elected Mayor of Limerick sets out his stall for the year

FIANNA Fail councillor Francis Foley has been elected Mayor of Limerick City and County.

The Abbeyfeale man, who works in retail, secured the chain of office unanimously at the annual general meeting of the local authority.

This year's annual general meeting took place under a cloud of sadness, having been delayed by a week following the tragic and untimely passing of Jerry O'Dea.

The Mulgrave Street publican was expected to be his party's candidate.

Given these circumstances, the opposition groupings decided against putting any other candidate forward to oppose Cllr Foley, who was joined by friends and family including ex-councillor Noel Gleeson and former MEP Gerry Collins.

Speaking upon taking the chain of office, Mayor Foley - who was nominated by Cllrs Michael Collins and Bridie Collins - said Mr O'Dea is in his thoughts

"While this is a huge personal moment for me and my family, it would be remiss of me not to mention my friend and colleague Jerry. It was his sudden passing that triggered this event for me and while it is a hugely joyous day for me, it is bittersweet," said the long-serving member.

Cllr Foley wants to ensure that nobody is left behind during his term of office.

"Limerick is a place that people from many different countries and creeds call home. I will represent all communities in Limerick and ensure that every section of these communities receives and acknowledges due recognition and service for our council and that nobody is left behind," he explained.

Housing is the new mayor's biggest issue, and he said: "Between now and 2026 we have been tasked to deliver over 2,500 new homes. The council must ensure that there are no obstacles to getting these homes built. Failure or excuses are not an option."

For the first time since 2019, the mayor-making ceremony took place at County Hall in Dooradoyle following the end of Covid-19 social distancing regulations.

Meanwhile, fellow Fianna Fail member Kieran O'Hanlon was elected as deputy mayor, again on a unanimous basis.

Cllr Foley becomes the third mayor of this council term as part of grand coalition deal, which saw Fine Gael man Daniel Butler take the chain of office last year.

This coalition deal is in place for the five-year lifespan of the council and sees Fianna Fail and Fine Gael rotate the role between them.

Limerick’s electorate moved to pass plans for a directly elected mayor in 2019.

But with this legislation still progressing through the Oireachtas, it is business as usual with councillors electing a mayor from their own number.

First elected in 2004 to the old Limerick County Council, councillor Foley was returned five years later despite a poor overall showing for his party, with an increased share of the vote. He was re-elected twice to the merged Limerick City and County Council, in 2014 and 2019.

He will be the second Abbeyfeale man to become the Mayor of Limerick City and County, with Fine Gael’s Liam Galvin taking the chain in 2015.

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