GREEN Party Councillor Brian Meaney broke ranks with his council colleagues on Wednesday by supporting the proposed transfer of 3,000 South-East Clare people into an expanded Limerick City.
In a surprise move, Councillor Meaney confirmed he supported the main findings of the Limerick Local Government Report at a specially convened Clare County Council meeting to discuss the authority’s response to this radical blueprint.
Councillor Meaney told councillors he wouldn’t apologise for his stance as he felt it was time to move away from the strict adherence to county boundaries when it came to promoting economic development in the region.
He said he always felt that the chairman of the Limerick Local Government Committee, Denis Brosnan is a man of principle who had the best interests of the Mid-West at heart.
Dismissing the “not an inch” stance taken by the 31 other councillors, Councillor Meaney said he felt a critical mass is needed to develop a vibrant Ennis, Shannon and Limerick region. He stressed that regional authorities should work together on a regional basis to counteract the imbalance of development on the East Coast.
The Green Party councillor is part of a technical group made up of independent councillors and one Labour councillor.
While councillors disagreed with Councillor Meaney’s stance, Councillor Patricia McCarthy declared if every member was as “honourable” as Councillor Meaney, the council would be a better place.
Councillor McCarthy explained that while members of the technical group disagree with Councillor’s Meaney views on this issue, they respected that he is entitled to have a different opinion.
Councillor Joe Arkins accepted Councillor Meaney’s “bona fides” on the issue and the fact that Denis Brosnan had conducted his work on a voluntary basis, he declared that “just because a hangman is working for free doesn’t mean he is right”.
It was decided to contact Environment Minister John Gormley to establish the exact status of the report and to issue a speedy response to the seven main recommendations once the minister replied.
The special meeting was convened at the request of Councillor Pascal Fitzgerald who contacted Mayor of Clare Christy Curtin on Wednesday of last week. His request was supported by his East Clare council colleagues.
Councillor Fitzgerald said the council should ascertain if the transfer of 3,000 people from South-East Clare would make any significant contribution to the estimated €20m in savings resulting from the merger of Limerick City and County Councils.
The report was condemned as “flawed” by Councillor Pat Hayes, who claimed it didn’t address the issue of job creation while Councillor PJ Kelly described it as a “bail out for Limerick City”.