Dateline June 2020. Leitrim. Counting is continuing in the county plebiscite to legalise prostitution and gambling in the county, following a turnout of 72% in the vote yesterday. Opinion polls have shown the result will be very close, but Mayor of Leitrim Billy Murtagh (Independent) has expressed confidence that the people of the county will endorse the proposals of his administration. The Mayor told reporters “When I was directly elected Mayor of this county by the people last year, I told them that Leitrim, like every county under the new devolution and local government laws, has an opportunity to make its own economic way, and it is my belief that this county can be the Las Vegas of Ireland. We’ll even take a more relaxed approach to drink driving, although I understand the Sligo Police Department will have checkpoints on the county border, as is their right. We will of course have proper regulation, but this is going to be the entertainment capital of this whole island, and remember, what happens in Leitrim stays in Leitrim!”
Opponents of the plan include both of Mayor Murtagh’s opponents in the mayoral election. Angela Hartigan, the Fine Gael candidate, has savaged the idea saying that “it will turn Leitrim into the gutter of Ireland”. She has proposed that Leitrim, because of its important place in the heritage of Ireland, should have its economic growth subsidised by other more prosperous counties. “Leitrim is entitled! It just is!”
Although Leitrim is the first county to exercise its powers under the new legislation, other counties and their mayors are looking on with interest. Mayor Tom Morray (Sinn Fein) of Louth has said that he is considering copying the Leitrim proposals. “It would be a shame not to use our position so close to Belfast for economic advantage. The north of Ireland is absolutely crawling with perverts willing to pay good money. Of course, we’d probably have to put in a few gay knocking shops as well, you know, for the DUP lads, but sure, a euro is a euro.”
Interestingly, not all counties intend to use their new devolution powers to liberalise. Some members of Roscommon County Council are discussing designating North Roscommon as a “family values area” with a ban on the sale of pornography, restrictions on drinking, off licences and nightclubs and a tough zero-tolerance approach to law and order to attract Leitrim residents with young families.
“Not everyone wants to live surrounded by hos and bitches jiving like it’s New Jack City,” Thomas Hartigan, a local farmer and undertaker, remarked.