Limerick profile: Councillors go head to head in newly-merged Limerick local authority
The number of representatives has been cut by five to 40 in new unified council
A number of former mayors of Limerick are among 86 candidates in the battle for seats on the newly-merged Limerick authority.
Outgoing councillors Jim Long (FG), Kieran O’ Hanlon (FF), Joe Leddin (Lab), Diarmuid Scully (FG), Michael Hourigan (FG), Gerry McLoughlin (Ind) and John Gilligan (Ind) are among the well-known figures seeking to retain their council seats.
Historically, city councillors needed just several hundred votes to gain a seat at the chamber, but the redrawn boundaries will see outgoing city and county councillors going head to head for the first time in the same battlegrounds.
The number of public representatives for the new unified authority has been reduced from 45 to 40.
The boundary commission recommended 21 councillors for the three new city electoral areas, with the remaining 19 in the three county electoral areas.
The changes, designed to create a larger metropolitan area with a population of 100,000, mean four extra councillors representing the larger redrawn city electoral area.
It has been billed as one of the most important local elections for Limerick, given the historic amalgamation of the two local authorities.
Boundary changes and voter trepidation over the new electoral landscape make predictions difficult.
However, there is no difficulty identifying some of the top local issues of concern among voters, with unemployment, property and water taxes and the damage caused by recent flooding that engulfed the north side of the city high on the agenda.
Regeneration and the redevelopment of Limerick city centre is also of concern in the Metropolitan area where over 52 candidates in the City East, City West and City North electoral areas are fighting it out for 21 seats.
The Anti Austerity Alliance is fielding four candidates across the city, while there are 16 Independents in the race, including Limerick’s longest serving Independent councillor John Gilligan, who predicts he will not be the only Independent on the new local authority.
Fianna Fáil, which was almost wiped out in the city in 2009 securing just one of the 17 seats on Limerick City Council, is determined to make a comeback.
What has been described locally as one of the most interesting sub-plots in the election is how Fianna Fáil’s “Willie O’Dea” candidates will perform in comparison with the “Niall Collins” candidates.
Collins is confident the party can make gains, and recently predicted the party could take 15 out of the 40 seats.
The “Collins” candidates include his cousin and outgoing councillor James Collins (City West), along with first-time candidate Jerry O’Dea, who is running in City East.
Retired Limerick detective Sean Lynch, who was involved in some of the biggest murder investigations in the city, is also running for Fianna Fáil in City West.