POLITICIANS and business figures have welcomed the report of the Limerick Reorganisation Implementation Group (LRIG) which provides a roadmap to the merger of the two councils.
The 25-page plan contains a number of directives, including that a new metropolitan city district be established, to serve a population of 100,000 people.
The headquarters of the new authority will be in City Hall at Merchant’s Quay, rather than County Hall in Dooradoyle.
Leader of Fine Gael in the city, Cllr Diarmuid Scully welcomed this, saying: “We cannot begin the process of revitalising Limerick City Centre if we move jobs out to Dooradoyle. As city hall is now clearly established as the headquarters, the opposite should now occur, and - notwithstanding the overall projected reductions in staff numbers overtime - the immediate result of the merger should be more local authority staff working in the city centre.”
However, county council Cathaoirleach Jerome Scanlan hopes that the majority of services are “divested” to local authority offices in the county.
He feels that County Hall is the more convenient location for people to do their business.
“The headquarters being in City Hall is not a major bugbear, but obviously services need to be provided at a convenient location. The customers of Limerick Council will be serviced where it is most convenient for them. There is a population of 193,000 in Co Limerick, and City Hall is only accessible to about 15,000 of these,” he said, pointing at the lack of parking.
Chamber president Gordon Kearney also welcomed the move, calling for all semi-state bodies to have their offices located in the centre.
The plan provides for the setting up of a high-level, business-led group to drive investment in Limerick.
This measure was also welcomed by Mr Kearney, and Cllr Scully, who said: “This is an important signal Limerick is open for business.”
He also wants to see “high quality modern office space” in the Opera Centre site, with an incubation centre for small businesses.
LIT president Dr Maria Hinfelaar described the proposals as a “major milestone” in the transformation process for the city.
But she fears legislative changes needed could take a long time without focus.