Tell John Moran: Limerick Is Not For Sale!

The vulture funds’ John Moran has been elected the mayor of Limerick. The position might be a first in Irish history, but with Moran stepping into the role — with his record as one of the key architects of the miserable austerity years and his ongoing profit-seeking private interests — it promises to be a brutal continuation of business-as-destructively-usual for the people of Limerick. 

The vulture fund mayor

With a history in international finance capital littering his CV, Moran was recruited as the secretary general of the Department of Finance by the then-finance minister Michael Noonan in 2012. Over the next two years, the Department met with vulture funds 65 times

The results of those meetings are ones working people know well: given ‘charity’ status and tax-free reign over the property market, these mega-corporations were handed vast swathes of loans and properties with no other goal except milking these ‘portfolio assets’ for maximum profits.

Vulture street art outside Ulster Bank Ireland’s head office in Dublin. Artwork and photo: Subset

The housing crisis we’ve suffered through for the past decade — hoarded vacant homes, skyrocketing rents, and record numbers of homelessness — was turbo-charged by the role Moran played in the Department of Finance taking advantage of the chaos in the wake of the banking crash. The author Naomi Klein has referred to this — exploiting crises to establish policies that benefit the rich, while ordinary people are in too much turmoil to respond or resist effectively — as ‘the shock doctrine’.

A fox in the henhouse inviting the other foxes over for dinner. Can we expect Moran to behave any differently now that he has the keys to City Hall?

On leaving the Department of Finance, Moran went on to establish his own lobbying firm, Red House Hill International. ‘The Uber Files’, a cache of more than 124,000 files leaked to The Guardian, exposes the role Moran’s firm played when hired by the US car-sharing company in its attempt to gut the very foundations of Irish taxi regulations. 

According to the records, Moran was to position Limerick as Uber’s entry point into the country with an attempted “ride-sharing pilot in [the city] as proof of concept.” He used his top-level Fine Gael ties to copy-and-paste Uber-coined terms like “the sharing economy” (a smokescreen term for a gigified job market) into the party’s 2016 election manifesto

Moran boasted to Uber that he could drop notes about the company into the finance minister Michael Noonan’s Limerick home on a Sunday, if required. He also tipped that the then-minister could be bumped into informally, and off the record conversations could be conducted in pubs he visited in the city.

John Moran used his high-level connections in government corridors to try and turn Limerick into a laboratory where taxi drivers’ protections and working conditions would be undermined. Limerick was to be the trojan horse for a new deregulated economic model for the taxi industry nationwide. 

History shows that John Moran’s Limerick is just an appetiser for his rich friends to sink their teeth into on their way to feast on the whole country. 

Excerpt from the 2016 Fine Gael Election Manifesto with text written by Uber

The profiteering mayor

Maybe, as the saying goes, he has ‘grown and changed’? On the contrary – he’s doubled down.

When confronted by two different Socialist Party public representatives, he has staunchly defended his record. The first, Joe Higgins at the 2015 Oireachtas Banking Inquiry, who described Moran as having “a belief in a capitalism that is red in tooth and claw.” Secondly, by Caitríona Ní Chatháin on RTÉ’s Up Front mayoral debate where he shot back that “we need foreign capital” because if not, “we’ll have the situation we have at the moment” – an argument met with resounding jeers from an audience that knew well that Moran’s role in facilitating voracious foreign capital was the direct cause of our current housing ‘situation’!

The latest CRO reports on DirectRoute show Moran on the Board of Directors

Not content to merely defend his past, he’s positioned himself to replicate it. During the same RTÉ debate he questioned runner-up candidate Helen O’Donnell’s plans for the infamous Northern Distributor Road with an interjected “Would you toll it?” Separately, in answers provided to Moran said: “The bit in between [Moyross and Plassey] is a lot less obvious to me, until the Tunnel gets close to capacity.” The connection between these becomes clear when looking at Moran’s financial interests.

According to the latest CRO reports, Moran sits on the board of directors for DirectRoute – the private firm that collects tolls for the Limerick Tunnel.

In 2020 taxpayers picked up the €9.63 million tab to make up for decreased traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, while in 2021 DirectRoute saw its profits off of the tunnel double. From 2020-2022, Transport Infrastructure Ireland paid €26m of taxpayer money to DirectRoute. Then just last year tolls rose, putting more profits into the directors’ pockets as well as the slate of foreign investors who have DirectRoute in their portfolios.

This is not a ‘100% independent’ mayor

Moran is a paid up and benefiting member of the Capitalist Party.

Evict the Mayor!

Vulture funds, the gig economy, and private firms squeezing our transportation for every euro they can — this is the living nightmare that capitalists like Moran have created for us and what clearly remains their vision for Limerick.

When even Limerick’s local media are owned and controlled by big media companies like Iconic Newspapers and Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, despite some journalists’ best efforts, it’s clear that it is up to the working class and oppressed people to resist our city being sold for parts.

This private stripping of our public resources has opened a gap for the Far Right to misdirect people away from those who are guilty for the multiple crises we face — such as John Moran — and instead try to blame refugees, migrants, and Trans people.

Our resistance is necessary, not just to stop those who will directly profit but also those bad actors who would try and indirectly capitalise on our misery through hate and division.

Limerick has a proud and radical history of resistance and struggle that we have to call on now. We can’t afford a Limerick that’s hollowed out into just another line in a quarterly profit statement for the super-rich. We need a Limerick where our homes, transportation, and lives are run by the ordinary people of Limerick and to the actual benefit of all of us!

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