MINISTER Michael Noonan TD has revealed that University of Limerick president Professor Don Barry has “committed to transferring the humanities section of the University into the city and place it onto the Opera Centre site”.
Speaking at the Limerick Solicitors Bar Association ball, Mr Noonan said the relocation of the humanities department was “a massive change” that would “get a living city going again”.
“What makes it a living city is getting the University in there, getting the town and the gown together for once. Put 1500 people in there, have the lectures there, people living there, and it will drive the thing on,” said the minister.
Mr Noonan admitted that funding was not as of yet available for the move, but noted the magnificent buildings UL have built on the campus in Castletroy as an example of what could yet happen in the city.
“Fair dues to Don Barry, he might not have the money to do it, but he has pledged to do it. But then again if you go through the campus in the University and look at the way they have developed it and the beautiful buildings they have there and the way they use them - at conception there wasn’t a bob for any of them.
“They came up with the idea first, and then they funded it. We would hope that we can do something similar in partnership with the government for the Opera site and get that moving,” he stated.
Asked for a response this week, Prof Don Barry said that UL “want to extend our presence in Limerick city and we are currently considering what options may lead to the establishment in the city centre of a world-class educational development that is significant in scale and sustainable over time”.
“At this early stage no decisions have been made regarding the types of programmes that would be most suited to delivery in a city centre location,” he added.
“To achieve this significant goal will require very considerable funding that is not available at present, but this is essential if we are to develop a strategy and implementation plan that will allow us to provide an outstanding UL student experience in the heart of Limerick city. We look forward to this emerging as the planning of the Opera Centre and other city centre initiatives progresses.”
The UL president has previously said that the future development of the Opera Centre site presents an opportunity to intensify the involvement of UL in the city and that “UL most definitely will play a key role in building the ‘New Limerick’”.
“We take seriously our responsibility to promote economic, educational, social and cultural development in Limerick. And we recognise the mutual benefit that flows from engagement between Limerick city and the University,” Prof Barry said recently.