LIMERICK is “taking the lead” in changes across Ireland and is “on the verge of doing something very important”, believes John Moran, secretary general at the Department of Finance.
Mungret man Mr Moran is one of Ireland’s most senior civil servants, and also sits on the board of the European Investment Bank, which – it is hoped – will grant a huge loan to develop infrastructural projects to the city in Jessica funding.
The guest of honour at the Limerick Chamber Regional Business Awards, Mr Moran urged the city to look towards Europe for support, as opposed to the more traditional route of America.
“If Limerick can think bigger in what it is going, it can really take things up to a European scale. All European projects are set up somewhere in Europe, and there is no reason why Limerick cannot think, ‘We can have European projects here, European companies, and European subsidies,’” he said.
Indeed, hundreds of millions of euro in loans are expected to pour into the city over the coming years to fund a series of large-scale infrastructural projects.
It is expected that as much as €250m in funding from the European Investment Bank could be put in place as early as December 9.
This will set in train the ‘Limerick 2030’ plans to transform the city centre, including a redevelopment of the Opera Centre site into office space, and potentially accommodation for students.
The project overall is anticipated to deliver up to 5,000 jobs.
The EIB has already approved a €100m loan for a capital redevelopment plan for the University of Limerick (UL).
And the secretary general at the Department of Finance John Moran has revealed this will be signed off on December 9 next.
Mr Moran indicated plans will be accelerated for an overall application for funding at this time.
It is understood that a high-level team has been put in place, involving representatives of the Chamber, City Council, LIT and UL to ensure Limerick’s application for €250m is successful.
Addressing the dinner, Mr Moran jokingly described Jessica as “this woman who has become the best friend of everyone in Ireland.”
“I remember Michael Noonan asking me one day who is this Jessica – we need to find out about her, and get to know her,” he laughed.
Mr Moran said everyone must work together to ensure Limerick’s year as City of Culture is a success - or they can forget the idea of being a European capital in 2020.
“There will be no 2020 if this doesn’t work. This has to be the best city of culture we have seen,” he said.