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John Moran, the new directly elected mayor of Limerick. Alamy Stock Photo
John Moran

What do we know about Limerick's new directly-elected mayor?

A busy CV has seen stints in the Department of Finance, international banking, and running a juice bar in the south of France.

IT’S BEEN QUITE a journey for the man who says he wants to use the “historic opportunity” of the Limerick mayoral office to transform Irish local government.

As the first directly-elected mayor of Limerick, John Moran will be subjecting himself to a new scrutiny, but it won’t be the first time he’s come under the public glare.

Born in Birmingham, Moran moved to Limerick at the age of four and grew up on a farm in Patrickswell before leaving Limerick for University College Dublin.

He became a public figure thanks to his role at the Department of Finance during the austerity years, but there were stops in international banking and a juice bar in the south of France along the way.

In 2012, Moran got the top job as secretary-general at the Department of Finance during one of the most turbulent economic times in the country’s history. At the time, the €85,000 spent on headhunting him for the role came in for criticism.

His appointment was also questioned by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who sought for vetting to be introduced to deal with appointments from the banking sector. It was Moran’s role as head of Zurich Capital Markets that attracted Doherty’s anger.

 A close ally of the then-Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Moran said that the main objective of his time in overseeing the department was to get the country back into the markets and exit the Troika bailout programme.

He appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on a number of occasions, including one where he had to explain how the government managed to overstate its debt liabilities by more than €3.6 billion.

He stepped away from the role only two years later, explaining that “you should work to make yourself redundant” and avoid staying in one job too long.

That principle may explain Moran’s busy CV – he qualified as a solicitor to work at the New York offices of McCann FitzGerald, also working for the Central Bank as head of wholesale bank supervision. And, of course, there was the juice bar he opened and ran in Cordes-sur-Siel in the south of France. 

Plans for the role

The new mayor will “personally define and oversee” the policies that shape the city and county during a five-year term, taking on many of the responsibilities that currently reside with the chief executive of the council.

Housing, road maintenance, transport, and environment are some of the areas the mayor will have more direct control over.

The salary is €154,134, in the same band as a chief executive of any local authority.

Moran, who will also be the first gay mayor of the midwest city, ran as an independent in the race.

On his plans for his term in office, Moran has said that “cynics would have you believe” that the new mayoral role will make no difference.

He obviously disagrees and told RTÉ yesterday that “a lot of conversations have already started” with councillors about what he’ll do in the role.

Moran told RTÉ’s Six One news that the city was “suffering with housing and health” like other parts of the country.

He has also highlighted plans to “push ahead quickly” with off-shore wind development for Foynes, saying that it could provide up to 50,000 jobs.

Aside from the headline promises, his campaign locally highlighted changes he made during a stint as chair of the county’s Hunt Museum – which hosts a collection of valuable artworks – when he decided to open its gardens to the public.

According to the Limerick Leader newspaper, his campaign put a particular focus on rural Limerick while also providing a 100-page strategy document setting out his objectives in the new office.

Moran reckons the new office will prove a success, eventually tempting the cities of Dublin, Cork and Waterford to follow Limerick’s lead.

The Department of Local Government is still considering a report on a proposed new mayor’s office for the capital and there are no plans as yet for Dubliners to vote on whether they’d like a directly elected mayor.

Before now, elected councillors chose among themselves who would take the role of mayor and the term only lasted one year.

When Moran takes office, one of his first major tasks will be to produce a document known as the mayoral programme, which will outline his plans for his term – and how he intends to transform the council and Limerick.

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