Last Refuge


Helen O'Donnell John Moran

Helen O'Donnell

FEW CANDIDATES of calibre have stepped forward yet to proclaim their candidacy for the Limerick mayor’s job, although ex-finance mandarin John Moran wrapped the campaign victory (to secure Limerick’s mayoralty) around himself when it was announced.

Moran has engaged in a personal and public campaign around the mayoralty quest but has repeatedly declined to say if he will be a candidate. This could indicate that it is just a question of whether John Moran thinks he would win the election and the shrewd civil servant is unsure.

One public representative who has declared herself willing to go for it is Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan. In 2021 Elisa got into a spat with Limerick Green TD Brian Leddin, who was eventually forced to apologise for calling the Soc Dems councillor “unhinged” and for alleging that she “craved fame” in a WhatsApp group. O’Donovan resigned and then re-joined the Soc Dems in December 2021. To be fair to Elisa, she looked a lot better than Leddin when the dust settled.

The stand out candidate for mayor, if he was so minded, would be Limerick hurling manager John Kiely, who it turns out has been a member of Fianna Fáil for some years. However, Kiely is focussed on taking the county to its fifth All-Ireland victory in a row next year and this precludes diversionary episodes such as a simultaneous mayoral campaign.

Meanwhile, FF councillor James Collins might consider a run-out but will more likely concentrate on another tilt at the Dáil.

The only politician that could likely pull it off in the unwieldy mayoral constituency that straddles Limerick city and county is FF’s Willie O’Dea and the ex-minister is certainly not interested.

A lady of Fine Gael heritage and a well-known member of the blue-blood Limerick establishment is Helen O’Donnell, whose late husband Tom O’Donnell was a minister and MEP. Helen now chairs the Paul Partnership and the Limerick City Tidy Towns Committee, among other positions in the city, and she was proprietor/manager of the Hunt Museum’s café for many years. There are those in Limerick who will pressure Helen, a former Limerick Person of the Year, to go for it next year.

However, JP McManus will be interested in trying to ensure that one of his people is in situ when this position is put before the electorate. This could turn out to be Paul Foley, a man that worked for many years at a high level in Limerick city and county. He is also a significant mover in GAA circles in a county that is currently thriving due to its hurlers. With McManus and the GAA on his side, Foley would have two massive plusses from the get-go.

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