ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan has reiterated the government’s support for the regeneration process, promising “action rather than words”, declaring that the amalgamation plans for Limerick’s councils would “ensure a strong and vibrant local authority” in the region.
During a visit to the city, the minister rejected a claim made by Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long, that he had inherited a “poisoned chalice” in his job overseeing the amalgamation of local authorities.
“I wouldn’t agree with him. I think this is a great opportunity for Limerick to develop a strong regional centre of population, a critical mass of people in order to take advantage of the necessary economic activities associated with a large, urban, vibrant centre,” the minister told the Limerick Leader.
“There hasn’t been as much activity in Limerick city - and the centre of the city in particular - for far too long and I am taking the opportunity to look at structures in local government in Limerick as well as around the country. I see local government as having a much more meaningful role and I think local government will come out of this stronger and better as a result.”
The minister refused to be drawn on suggestions that the amalgamation could lead to job losses or redundancies.
“I didn’t say there was going to be any redundancies, I don’t know, but we will see what will happen arising from the first few meetings of the implementation group and see what issues arise,” he said of the Denis Brosnan chaired Limerick Reorganisation Development Group, who will oversee the merger.
Of regeneration, he admitted “certain projects have been a lot slower to happen than they should have been. I want to see 2012 as a year where we can, in spite of the financial difficulties, get priority for certain projects in Limerick.”