LIMERICK’S most senior politician Michael Noonan has said the city’s new economic report “won’t even reach the shelf where the dust gathers”.
There has been scepticism in some quarters as to whether the recommendations of the comprehensive plan for Limerick 2030 - launched by Environment Minister Phil Hogan last Friday - will bear fruit, especially given the lack of progress on the regeneration project.
But Mr Noonan pledged that as long as he was Finance Minister, the project would proceed - a promise reflected by his cabinet colleague Jan O’Sullivan.
Mr Noonan said there will be “an awful lot of activity” in Mulgrave Street, outlining plans for the upgrade of the prison and the moving of the Courts service to the street.
He said up to 300 people will be employed in construction there over an 18 month period from 2014.
The current courtroom at Merchant’s Quay will accommodate City Hall once it moves, and Mr Noonan hopes that can kick start action on the economic plan.
“Once the courthouse moves from where it is, the refurbishment will then take place in City Hall, then we can get to the refurbishment of the Potato Market. I would be confident we can drive that immediately: in the next two years, I believe construction will be under way,” he said.
It is hoped to use JESSICA funding on the project.
The scheme, which helped regenerate Manchester, is administered by the European Investment Bank.
Pointing to his recent appointment of John Moran on the board of this institution, Mr Noonan said: “We have someone there actively working for Ireland, but also being very conscious of the Limerick project.”