Unchartered waters with Limerick council merger

Local politics along the banks of the Shannon is entering uncharted waters due to the unification of the city and county to form a united assembly.

The new Limerick City and County Council will have 40 members. This means a loss of five seats from the old city and county councils, which had 17 city councillors and 28 county councillors.

The new electoral area has been broken into six districts. There are three metro districts in the greater city area and three municipal districts in the wider county area.

The three city metro areas will have a total of 21 seats. They are divided as follows:

- Limerick City North’s six councillors will come from the greater inner city area;

- Limerick City East with eight seats stretches from Roxborough, to Annacotty, taking in Castleconnell at the northern end;

- Limerick City West with seven seats starts in the heart of the city and goes out to Mungret, Patrickswell, and Clarina.

Limerick’s three county municipal areas will be represented by a total of 19 councillors.

- The six-seater New-castle West area is bound on the northern end by Glin and stretches south as far as Dromcollogher — and has 12 candidates;

- Adare-Rathkeale with six seats goes along the Shannon Estuary from Loughill to Pallsakenry and then takes in a large chunk of the county south to Croom and Ballingarry.

- The third county area, the seven-seater Cappamore-Kilmallock, goes from Murroe on the northern end to the Cork border at Kilbeheny on the southern side.

A total of 85 candidates will battle it out for the 40 seats in the new City and County Council.

Fine Gael have 25 candidates, Fianna Fáil 20, Labour seven, Sinn Féin six, Anti Austerity Alliance six, Independents, three, and non-party 19.

Fine Gael and Labour will be bracing themselves for a backlash.

Sinn Féin, which has just one outgoing councillor, Maurice Quinlivan, will be disappointed if they do not add to their numbers on the new council. One of the most fascinating battles will be for the seven seats in Limerick City West.

Of the 18 declared candidates, Fine Gael have six, compared to Fianna Fáil’s three.

Limerick City West is the heartland of Michael Noonan’s domain and takes in the huge Raheen/ Dooradoyle suburb where he lives.

Two former mayors, Maria Byrne and Jim Long are the better known Fine Gael names, with Daniel Butler aiming to hold the seat won by his late father, Richard Butler.

The Fianna Fáil ticket is led by James Collins, first cousin of the party’s justice spokesman, Niall Collins.

Seán Lynch, a former detective, and auctioneer Geraldine Leddin complete the party lineup.

Joe Leddin, a former mayor and parliamentary assistant to Jan O’Sullivan, the housing minister, is in a tough fight facing with polls forecasting a big backlash. Sinn Féin’s Malachy McCreesh is relatively unknown. But this could be the election of the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns.

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