Ex-Limerick mandarin’s mayoral hopes, real drama at Fair City and Paddy Cosgrave goes legal

IMMA director looks to connect modern art and old faith in Dublin 8

Prostitution, rodent issues, antisocial behaviour, public urination and “panhandling” sound like the types of problems the first directly-elected mayor of Limerick should try to clean up. Luckily for one candidate, former Department of Finance secretary general John Moran, he has already identified such issues close to the house on Pery Square in the Georgian heart of Limerick city where he is carrying out a €1 million restoration.

The Limerick native, who previously chaired the Land Development Agency, lists these problems in a 34-page appeal to An Bord Pleanála against plans by St Vincent de Paul (SVP) to renovate and convert a building on Hartstonge Street in the city’s Georgian quarter into a community support facility at a cost of €3 million.

Moran claims the local council’s grant of permission for the facility last year was “capricious, biased, arbitrary and on the whole unreasonable”.

The new building, near SVP’s existing Ozaman House headquarters, is being given to the charity by its owner, the trustees of The Mechanics Institute. But Moran says that although he understands the “critical nature” of the supports being offered by SVP to vulnerable people, he and his neighbours are concerned for their safety due to antisocial behaviour by some of those using Ozaman House.


Moran said his faith in the Garda’s ability to patrol the area has been “diminished by the clear presence of an active and visible prostitution trade on the streets every evening”. Some of the SVP’s clients use a local laneway “as a public toilet and not just for urination”, with rubbish and broken glass strewn about.

If the facility is granted permission, security may be needed and the SVP should be responsible for cleaning the adjacent streets, the former mandarin says. Moran, who is also an investor in a co-living scheme nearby on The Crescent, suggests the local council should carry out a strategic plan to determine if these services are suitable for a “Georgian neighbourhood community” or should be placed “more proximate” to the homes of their users.

If Moran is elected mayor, he is likely to have lots to discuss with the city’s planners.

Cuts proving costly at RTÉ

The scriptwriters of Fair City may have to come up with some storylines that can be filmed close to the Four Courts. Following in the footsteps of Tony Tormey, who plays Paul Brennan, the soap’s resident villain, another stalwart has taken a High Court action against RTÉ. Maclean Burke, who plays Damien Halpin, lodged a case last week for “breach of contract” against the broadcaster, which decided last year to cut the number of episodes of the soap from four per week to three as part of a series of budget cuts.

Burke, whose solicitor did not respond to queries, is the fourth Carrigstown resident to take a case against RTÉ in recent years. Tormey, who discontinued his High Court action, opting for an outing in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) instead, has reportedly settled his dispute with RTÉ for somewhere in the region of €200,000.

He claimed that RTÉ restricted him to the status of a self-employed contractor, with no job security or other benefits, even though he should have been entitled to a full-time job as far back as 2004 when new legislation came into force. A similar WRC claim by George McMahon, who plays Mondo O’Connell, has also been settled. There was no exit payment for Jim Bartley, who played Bela Doyle, when he retired last year but he’s also due a cheque after RTÉ decided to settle his WRC case.

There’ll be one for everyone in the cast at this stage.

Currency holds its values

RTÉ journalists have been manfully reporting on recent examples of the broadcaster’s financial incontinence. Covering the organisation you work for, particularly people you know, with a straight bat can be an ethical tightrope. So kudos to Tom Lyons, co-owner of online business news outlet The Currency, who didn’t hold back when writing last week about the role played by the online publication’s other co-owner, Ian Kehoe, in the controversy. Lyons said there was a “collective failure at many levels” of RTÉ, including among its board of directors.

“Among these directors was Ian Kehoe, the editor of The Currency, who was a director of the station from 2018 to 2023. These directors failed to ask the hard questions required to make the best decisions,” he concluded.

Paddy Cosgrave turns a new leaf

Tech conference organiser Paddy Cosgrave once said he didn’t sue media companies “on a point of principle” because he didn’t agree with Ireland’s “insane” defamation laws. Obviously something reported by a Mediahuis outlet changed his mind because he lodged a case against the publisher of titles such as the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent last week.

The legal action, about which he would not comment, will just add to the material journalist Catherine Sanz has to write about in her forthcoming book about Cosgrave and the Web Summit, which is due to be published in September. The HarperCollins book has been given the apposite title of Drama Drives Interest: The Web Summit story.

Wholly new role for Anne Fletcher

Clive Bell, the art critic, once likened art to religion, saying they were “two roads by which men escape from circumstance to ecstasy”. Perhaps Anne Fletcher, the director of IMMA, is in agreement. Last week she was appointed a lay Canon at Christ Church Cathedral by Dean Dermot Dunne alongside Archbishop Michael Jackson.

The new Canon said she would seek to foster the historical connections the two Dublin 8 institutions. “Together, we will continue to provide a balm of connection, inclusivity and radical public engagement for our communities,” she said. Amen.

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