LIMERICK is in the running to be the location for a new national Diaspora Centre, with plans to build an “iconic building” on the banks of the Shannon in the city.
Fine Gael’s Kieran O’Donnell, who was this Thursday due to raise the matter in the Dail, confirmed that the Limerick Local Authorities and the Shannon Airport Authority have come together to launch a joint bid to secure a National Diaspora Centre for Limerick, and that this will be adjudicated on by the Government during Limerick’s tenure as Ireland’s City of Culture.
The Government is shortly to look for expressions of interest from different groups around the country who wish house the Diaspora Centre. A group was set up in Limerick about a year ago to make a bid and Deputy O’Donnell believes the city has a “great chance” of being chosen.
Limerick’s 2030 plan proposes an iconic building which could put Limerick on the international map.
“It would be a multi-million euro project with lots of jobs created at construction phase and then you would have the employment in the centre afterwards,” he said.
Deputy O’Donnell outlined that consultants appointed by the Government will recommend the “scale, scope and role” of the centre.
“The decision will be made in the year that Limerick is the City of Culture, you have Shannon on our doorstep and an iconic building on the banks of the Shannon in the city would be perfect, as Limerick is the most accessible city in Ireland,” Deputy O’Donnell explained.
The confirmation comes as the Fine Gael TD prepared to raise the issue in the Dail with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar.
“I can confirm that Limerick’s bid will be a joint one by the Limerick Local Authorities and the Shannon Airport Authority. Consultants are currently being engaged to prepare the Limerick proposal,” he said.
The Government is starting a process to adjudicate on Limerick’s and other proposals by the end of the year, with a view to presenting a decision by the middle of next year.
“Geographically, Limerick is ideally located and with Shannon aiport so close I think it is the obvious choice,” added Deputy O’Donnell.
Limerick city’s bid is being coordinated by the Limerick Diaspora Steering Group, of which Deputy O’Donnell is the founding member.
“The Steering Group has done a huge amount of work on Limerick’s bid, and we have already met with Minister Varadkar and presented proposals to him as part of his scoping study,” he said.
“A major joint bid like this shows the intent to make this a major international attraction into Ireland.
“I believe it is very significant that Limerick, as a major city, and Shannon, a major international airport, have formally joined forces on this,” he added.
“It would be hugely significant for Limerick if the government were to approve this bid during Limerick’s tenure as National City of Culture. I believe this would provide the ideal legacy for Ireland’s first City of Culture, bringing with it long-term economic benefits for Limerick. “
The Government committed in the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework 2012-2016, published in November 2011, to support a Diaspora Centre should a suitable project and partner be available.
“Should the National Diaspora Centre be located in Limerick, it would provide a major boost to the city and would allow Limerick to provide an iconic tourist attraction that would bring thousands of visitors to the city annually,” Deputy O’Donnell explained.
“I welcome the fact that the Government is now opening up the final part of the process to decide on the location of the National Diaspora Centre, and I am hopeful that the bid to bring the centre to Limerick can be successful,” he concluded.