LIMERICK City and County Council should develop a night-time strategy for the city centre to bring life back between 5pm and 9pm.
That’s the view of Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler and the majority of the metropolitan district who passed a motion in the hope it will force the local authority into action.
“This motion is about creating a welcoming, safe and attractive city centre with a diverse evening and night-time economy, whilst protecting the quality of life for residents,” Cllr Butler said. “The ultimate aim of every night-time economy strategy for any city is to make it feel safer, more diverse and attractive in the evening.”
He said Limerick should be able to offer “traditional pubs, chill out bars, unique restaurants, good hotels, quality theatres and cinemas, nightclubs and live music venues”.
After councillor Maria Byrne seconded the motion, Sinn Fein member Séighin Ó Ceallaigh said: “This is something which desperately needs to be done to stop the city being a ghost town after 6pm. This strategy needs to be developed as soon as possible.”
He pointed out Galway, Cork and Waterford have the same “vibrancy” after 5pm as they do in the day, and criticised traders for remaining closed on Sundays, despite free parking.
Cllr Butler said to tackle this, there needs to be a “consistency” of opening hours in the centre.
Cllr John Gilligan, Independent, sid more investment is needed, adding: “We spent huge sums on the boardwalks at Clancy Strand and O’Callaghan Strand. Then we stopped.”
Cllr Cian Prendiville, Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) said people will come into the city centre in the early evening if there were attractions, pointing out the huge influx brought in by Culture Night in September.
But he lamented the demise of the late-night coffee shop, The Stormy Teacup at Foxes Bow, saying there are very few places now which offer a quiet place for people to meet after 5pm.
He also criticised Bus Eireann for its impending price hike, meaning the majority of people will pay €2.10 to board a bus between the suburbs and the city centre.
Mary Hayes, of the council’s economic directorate, said the local authority is working with the Chamber to earn a Purple Flag.
A workshop for councillors will be lined-up in the New Year, she added.
Meanwhile, with the sswitching on of the Christmas lights on Sunday, the local authority is showing its festive spirit by helping local retailers and community groups to promote their Christmas events and promotions on the Christmas In Limerick website.
The Council is encouraging businesses, groups and individuals to log on to to upload their own events free of charge.
“While we are keen to create a festive and welcoming atmosphere throughout the city during the coming weeks, we are also committed to helping businesses, individuals and local community groups in their efforts to host and promote Christmas-themed activities and promotions,” said Mary Hayes.
“The Christmas In Limerick website is for individuals, groups and businesses large and small to publish their broad ranging activities, events and goods for all to find and partake in. So, if you are Limerick based and are preparing a treat, selling a feast, celebrating mass or just plain partying, we would ask you to sign in to Limerick.ie/christmas and promote it,” she added.