I read with interest and some bemusement Mr. Tom Shortt’s self-aggrandising letter (Limerick Post, July 16, pg.30) attacking the Moyross Residents’ Alliance (MRA) and accusing the MRA Chairperson, Tommy Daly, of making a “personalised attack on the Labour Party” and Mr Shortt.
Aside from the fact that one cannot make a personalised attack on a political party, the criticism made by Tommy of Mr. Shortt’s lack of knowledge regarding the role of Councillors is valid.
Far from being a “daft notion”, Article 28a of the Constitution of Ireland makes it clear that Councillors are elected to represent communities, not political parties as Mr. Shortt had publically contended; Cllr. Frankie Daly does not represent the Labour Party on the Council and he never did, he represents the Northside communities that elected him.
Mr. Shortt also accuses Tommy of telling “downright lies”, claiming that he never attended any meetings organised by the MRA.
As an adviser and co-opted member of the MRA’s committee I can confirm that Mr. Shortt did in fact attend three meetings; one with the MRA committee and two others that were held in St. Munchin's Community Centre in Kileely as the Moyross Community Centre wasn’t made available to us at the time.
St. Munchins Community Centre where the meetings were held
I attended these meetings where Mr. Shortt met with Moyross residents of Delmege Park, Dalglish Park, Cosgrove Park, Cliona Park and Castle Park, we all had to sign-in as we entered the Community Centre so this fact, unlike Mr. Shortts claims, can be independently verified.
During our first meeting with Mr. Shortt he even raised his own issues with those in attendance, asking what could be done to stop the rise of Sinn Féin; he was reminded that he was not at a Labour Party meeting and that we were there to discuss our issues and what he as an elected representative could do to help us on the Council.
The issues raised included: depopulation, the boarding-up of perfectly good houses, the demolition of burnt-out and unsafe houses, ensuring Health & Safety regulations, anti-social behaviour, Council buy-outs of homeowners for a pittance, the lack of real community participation in the decision making process, and the right-of-way between Dalglish Park and Ballananty.
While some tenants did ask Mr. Shortt to make individual representations on their behalf, Tommy and his sons did not; as home-owners they are responsible for their own property and didn’t seek Mr. Shortt’s assistance.
The issues raised at the meetings by “members of the Daly family” were ones that impacted on the wider community, not just themselves.
All the residents wanted was for their Councillor to formally raise their issues and concerns in Council meetings and to ask Council officials to publically account for their decisions, which had helped to make the “regeneration” areas worse instead of better, closed down schools, increased anti-social behaviour and turned home-owners into tenants.
At our meetings Mr. Short talked the talk; he even volunteered to do some work with residents in Delmege Park on the community garden that the MRA had established there in 2009.
However, Mr. Shortt did not walk the walk; he never raised any issues on our behalf (if he had done so then it would be a matter of public record in City Hall and it is not) and he turned up in Delmege Park 2-weeks after the work was done looking to have his picture taken in the garden.
As I understand it, that photo-opportunity in 2011 was the last formal contact that the MRA had with Mr. Shortt; he stopped answering phonecalls and replying to emails after that.
Jamie Daly, MRA Events Manager with Tom Shortt Feb 2011
Tom Shortt with MRA Chairperson Tommy Daly, Feb 2011
Now, that last sentence might be construed as a “personalised attack”, but it is just a pun that couldn’t be helped given Mr. Shortt’s denial of the facts and the very real personalised and libelous attack he made on Tommy Daly’s character.
Mr. Shortt owes Tommy Daly and the MRA a public apology.
TWIST AND SPIN
Of course I don’t really believe that Mr. Shortt can’t recall those meetings and I do understand why he has denied that they ever took place; he wants to deflect from his own shortcomings (sorry, couldn’t help it) as a Councillor and under no circumstance can the facts be allowed to get in the way of his egotistical narrative.
Having dispensed some downright lies, Mr. Shortt in his letter then seeks to misrepresent the statement made by Tommy and the MRA.
Mr. Shortt praises himself for toeing his party’s line by voting against his fellow Northside Councillors and the wishes of Northside communities that he was elected to represent, claiming that his support for the provision of a site for a Youth Centre on the Kileely Road is an example of him representing Northside Communities. He also accuses his fellow Northside Councillors of “opposing services for Northside communities”, when they were merely opposed to its location.
The new Youth Centre on the Kileely Road
Helping to force developments on communities that didn’t want them is not good representation, other sites could have been looked at and the MRA would have been delighted it the Youth Centre had ended up being built in Moyross and if the vote had gone the other way it is most likely that it would have.
The MRA’s criticisms of Mr. Shortts failure to represent were specific to Moyross and the “regeneration” process, but he has denied that those issues were ever raised with him so he can justify his silence on the matter in Council meetings. Instead he spins what was said and he now expects that his fellow Northside Councillors should “incur a greater wrath” from Tommy Daly and the MRA. The fact is, they already have
THE WRATH OF CATHAL
On 24th February 2014, Mr. Shortt voted (along with the rest of the noddies - it was a unanimous vote) to approve the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan (LRFIP). This plan green-lined much of the land for private development in the long-term and red-lined many occupied homes for demolition without the agreement of the residents.
Regeneration Plan for Moyross - approved by Council in 2014
In Moyross a substantial amount of occupied homes are targeted for demolition without the residents prior agreement, including the MRA’s Community Garden in Delmege Park, the very garden that Mr. Shortt was so anxious to be photographed in!
Plan to demolosh homes and the MRA community garden
Weeks before the vote I had emailed Mr. Shortt and all of the other City Councillors with a submission from residents groups in Ballinacurra Weston and Rosbrien that highlighted the many problems with the LRFIP - like the lack of proper consultation and real participation of residents in developing the plans, and pointed out issues that were not addressed, such as the CCTV cameras being unmonitored on the Southside.
And in case they had forgotten, a letter of support for the submission from a Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council was physically left on their desks before the vote took place.
I don’t believe that any of them actually read the information that I had provided, or indeed the LRFIP for that matter. If they had they would and should have asked questions and voted against it.
Mr. Shortt goes on to further twist what was said by the MRA and boasts how the Labour Party’s Jan O’Sullivan TD secured €3 million for the refurbishment of the Moyross Community centre, claiming that “...this contradicts Tommy Daly’s daft notion that politicians serve communities best by staying somehow outside or above party politics”
Tommy never made such a statement and Mr. Shortt knows it. Tommy was referring specifically to the role of Councillors as defined by the Constitution, but that fact would have upset Mr. Shortt’s deluded narrative.
(The full MRA statement can be read on the MRA's Facebook page).
As for being above party politics, well it was fairly clear to all but the most imbecilic that Tommy was referring directly to Cllr. Frankie Daly opening the MRA’s 1916 Remembrance Garden in June with Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea TD.
Tommy Daly addresses those assembled at the launch
The MRA's Community Garden was established in 2009.
Jan O’Sullivan was Minister for Housing when the €3 million was awarded to the Moyross Community Centre and that money was actually secured by the Community Centre and the plan they submitted through the Council to Central government.
O’Sullivan was also Minister for Housing when she launched the LRFIP in Thomond Park in 2013, a plan that seeks to trample on the property rights of residents to the benefit of private developers. Frankly, I had expected a lot more from her as a Limerick TD, her tenure a housing Minister was one big fat disappointment.
Neither I nor Tommy Daly has ever been a Councillor, a TD or a Minister, yet in 2009 we managed to secure €0.5 million for the Council to clean up the “regeneration” areas. I had petitioned the EU and Tommy accompanied me to Brussels for the hearing. I would argue that we achieved more for Moyross and the other “regeneration” areas in those 2-days than Mr. Shortt did during his 5-year stint as a Councillor.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Mr. Shortt ends his mendacious letter by saying “The silence from Cllr. Frankie Daly is deafening and nobody knows when he will speak up to explain himself, rather than having others, such as Tommy Daly, speaking for him.”
Tommy Daly isn’t speaking for Cllr. Frankie Daly, who has already explained that he had promised to vote for the Northside’s Cllr. Michael Hourigan (Fine Gael) as Limerick’s Metropolitan Mayor months ago, long before the Labour Party decided that it was going to field a candidate that didn’t have a chance of winning.
Cllr. Frankie Daly faced a dilemma; ether take the unconstitutional party whip from Labour and go back on his word, or stay true to his word and vote for Cllr. Hourigan.
What Mr. Shortt actually wants is for Cllr. Frankie Daly to explain himself to the Labour Party, which he will have to do if he wants to apply to have the whip restored to him. As far as I’m aware this hasn’t happened and I hope it never does.
Cllr. Daly does not need the Labour Party and would be better placed to serve the communities that elected him without getting whipped into silence on issues that the Labour Party want ignored.
I have to wonder if this whole episode was orchestrated to push Cllr. Daly out of the Limerick Labour Party.
Mr. Shortt was a sitting Councillor when Frankie Daly was selected as his ‘running mate’ in the 2014 local elections and Mr. Shortt not only lost his seat to him, but lost by significant margin.
In 2009, when Labour was in opposition and on the rise, Mr. Shortt received 824 first preference votes and was elected to the Council on the 13th count, his then ‘running mate’ was sitting Councillor John Ryan and he got 479, losing his seat.
In 2014, Mr. Shortt received 426 first preference votes and lost his seat, whereas Frankie Daly received 1,014 and was elected on the 10th count. This happened at a time when the Labour Party was extremely unpopular because of their support for imposing severe austerity measures on the Irish people.
People voted for Frankie because of his reputation as a community worker in the Northside and I think there might be some jealousy there on the part of Mr. Shortt. Of course that is purely speculation on my part.
RATE MY COUNCILLOR
Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on Mr. Shortt; perhaps I am biased against him and the rest of the numpties because they didn’t speak up for “regeneration” residents at Council meetings. Maybe they didn’t know that they were supposed to, I mean, some of them have full-time jobs, is it reasonable of me to expect them to be reading plans and reports?
Mr. Shortt had a very important full-time job; he was an art teacher in Scoil Carmel all-girls secondary school, which closed earlier this year.
I wonder what his students thought of him?
A cursory glance on Rate My Teachers shows that he was very popular “he is soundest teacher in the school. He is a legend” writes one reviewer, but a closer inspection tells a different tale (jc = Junior Certificate, lc = Leaving Certificate):
In fairness trying to juggle two jobs can be difficult; maybe he did have “too much on his plate”, as the first reviewer put it. So what about before he became a Councillor in 2009? Was his performance as a teacher any better then? Let’s have a look:
“He's only popular because he does no work. Ever since he became a councillor he's had too much on his plate to handle he should pick one job and stick to it. It's not fair on the people who love art” (March 2011)
“He didnt cover the LC history course, we were'nt able to answer half of the questions! he did next to no practical art classes with us even though its worth 63% of the final marks!!!” (August 2010)
“made our class fail jc art” (June 2009)
“doesn't do any art work with us! I'm surprised people pass there jc and lc!” (June 2008)
“only popular because he allows students to do whatever they want. especially with lower level classes... doesn't care about results. easy money” (June 2007)
“He's a dosser. never prepared ...always late. He's popular because he allows students to doss in class. And he doesn't care how well the students do. Popularity doesn't make a good teacher.” (November 2006)
“He is a great laugh and he is not like a teacher at all. He cares about students. His classes are like free classes. But sometimes he will go cranky but averagely a brill teacher!” (February 2006)
That last review, which is trying to be nice, actually hangs him.
On the face of it, it would appear that Mr. Shortt was equally as shitty at being a teacher as he was at being a Councillor; he is a spoofer of the highest order and personifies everything that is wrong with Irish politics. The sooner people start waking up to these sort of chancers the sooner we will start to see some real change.