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Monday 18 February 2019

Shock win by independent shatters voting pact for mayor

New Limerick mayor John Gilligan (left), his defeated rival Kevin Kiely (centre) and Killarney mayor
Patrick O'Donoghue.
New Limerick mayor John Gilligan (left), his defeated rival Kevin Kiely (centre) and Killarney mayor Patrick O'Donoghue.

Kathryn Hayes and Anne Lucey

AN independent councillor caused a shock last night after shattering a long-held party voting pact and winning a term as Limerick's mayor.

John Gilligan became the city's 812th mayor in a dramatic turn of events in which Fine Gael's anointed candidate Kevin Kiely lost out by a single vote. The result followed a break in a pact between Fine Gael and the remaining three Labour councillors on the council.

Despite the agreement, Labour's John Ryan voted for Mr Gilligan, which gave him a 9-8 victory over Kevin Kiely.

Independent councillor Lily Wallace said her outspoken colleague deserved a chance at this "ultimate role".

Speaking after the dramatic vote, Mr Gilligan said it had taken him 18 years to get to this position but it was "worth every minute of it". The 59-year-old father of five vowed to work for change during his mayoralty.

This would include continuing the development of the commercial heart of the city, supporting the regeneration project to improve the housing stock and work to retain Limerick Docks as a working port.

Trial

The longest-serving councillor currently on Limerick City Councillor, Mr Gilligan has also been one of the most vocal on the fight against crime in the city and has made repeated calls on government to improve the number of gardai and garda stations in Limerick.

Fianna Fail's John Cronin was elected as deputy mayor. It came on a night when towns and cities across the country chose new mayors and Lord Mayors.

A Fianna Fail councillor awaiting criminal trial over alleged breaches of council ethics legislation was elected mayor of Killarney.

Patrick O'Donoghue (41) was chosen for the role after gaining the support of independents, Fine Gael, and Labour councillors.

Last month Mr O'Donoghue, managing director of the Gleneagle Hotel group, appeared in court following a council motion to rezone Gleneagles land in March 2006.

Anniversary

It is alleged he influenced, or sought to influence, the council's decision and that he failed to withdraw from a meeting on the night of March 6, 2006.

The 20 acres of land contain a pitch and putt course, the Gleneagle and Brehon Hotels and the National Event Centre (INEC). A motion had proposed rezoning them for tourism and town centre facilities.

Mr O'Donoghue had to appear before a hearing of the Standards in Public Office Commission. SIPOC found he had breached ethics legislation and the ethics watchdog sent a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Last month, on the State's application, Mr O'Donoghue was sent forward for trial after appearing at Killarney District Court on two summonses in relation to the zoning motion.

The new Lord Mayor of Cork city is Fine Gael councillor Brian Bermingham. He took up the position on the 40th anniversary of his father John Bermingham also being Lord Mayor.

Mr Bermingham will earn a year's salary of €99,000.

In Sligo, Labour councillor, Veronica Cawley became the fifth female mayor of the town. In Donegal, Fianna Fail councillor Gerry Crawford was chosen as mayor.

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