A major JP versus JFK row has erupted in Limerick over the renaming of a bridge at a secret session of the city council.
Members of the council’s protocol committee, who meet in private, voted seven to six in favour of renaming Shannon Bridge, the John F Kennedy Bridge.
A Facebook campaign has now taken off to name the bridge after Limerick racing figure and philanthropist JP McManus amid mounting opposition to the JFK move.
Thousands have supported the ‘JP McManus Bridge’ on social media.
Shannon Bridge connects Lower Mallow St with Condell Road and the North Circular Road.
It was officially opened by then taoiseach Charles Haughey in the 1980s.
The longest-serving member of Limerick City Council, Cllr Pat Kennedy, has been to the fore in lobbying to rename Shannon Bridge after the former US president.
It paid off earlier this week when his proposal just shaded a vote at the protocol committee which also voted to change the name of the Merchant’s Quay courtyard in front of Limerick City Hall and Limerick Courthouse to ‘Brian Boru Square’.
Former mayor, Cllr Jim Long, has joined in the campaign to overturn the JFK decision, saying the vast majority of Limerick people don’t favour the new name selected by the council’s protocol group.
“This is not being anti-JFK. The simple truth of it is we already have a housing estate named after him and a school. This is a Kennedy agenda — a Pat Kennedy agenda. It was planned, orchestrated and executed. I can’t stand over it. I voted against it at the meeting, because I know the people don’t want this change. The phone-in to Limerick’s Live 95 morning talk show bears this out. There is war out there over it.”
More than 100 submissions were considered by the protocol committee on renaming the bridge and Merchant’s Quay.
Critics of the JFK change claim it does not reflect public opinion.
And yesterday the controversy took a new twist when an emerging Facebook campaign to name the bridge after JP McManus gathered huge momentum.
Cllr Long said: “This is very welcome as JP has done so much for so many worthy causes in health, education and sport in Limerick City and County. It would be great to have JP’s name on the bridge rather than JFK.”
However, Mr Kennedy said he was delighted at the protocol decision.
“I would like to thank the people for their support. JFK was the first American president to visit Ireland during his term of office and the renaming of the bridge to the John F Kennedy Bridge is in the best interests of the city.”
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