AS of this week, Limerick has a new ‘sister city’ in the shape of Santa Clara in California.
Council leader Kevin Sheahan and official Kieran Lehane headed stateside this week to formally sign a memorandum of understanding which strengthens economic and civic ties between Limerick and the Silicon Valley city.
The ‘sister city’ agreement - also signed by Santa Clara mayor Jamie Matthews - aims to increase economic development, cultural opportunities and technical exchanges between both cities.
Corbally man John Hartnett, an influential figure in the Silicon Valley and the driving force behind the Irish Technology Leadership Group, helped set up the twinning, which is Santa Clara’s first for more than 30 years.
Cllr Sheahan said the move will enhance job creation opportunities for Limerick and the region.
“Being a sister city of Santa Clara provides us with an opportunity to promote Limerick in Silicon Valley and opens us to more partnering and investment opportunities with US companies. The relationship will enable reciprocal benefits for Limerick City and County Council, Limerick Chamber, Limerick Institute of Technology, the University of Limerick and Shannon Airport and will allow us engage in suitable promotional and public relations activities in promoting Limerick as a European Technology Cluster,” he said.
Already as part of the relationship, schools in Santa Clara have enjoyed exchanges with the Redemptorists and Salesian Schools, while bands from California have taken part in the Limerick International Band championship.
AAA councillor Cian Prendiville says it is a “strange decision” to fly Cllr Sheahan and Mr Lehane “half way around the world for one photo opportunity”.
He questioned who made the decision to spend this money, and whether the council had approved the sister city relationship.