THE Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan, has admitted that behind-the-scenes tensions at the Limerick Regeneration Agencies were a factor in her decision to restructure the entire regeneration project.
Deputy O’Sullivan was commenting after details of major differences at board level within the agencies were revealed in a national newspaper.
According to the Irish Independent, the relocation of council tenants from Regeneration areas to other parts of the city was a point of difference between a number of board members including former City manager Tom Mackey and Brendan Kenny, ceo of the Regeneration Agencies.
The lack of progress in building new houses to replace those being demolished was also a contentious issue, according to the report.
“There has been tension to be honest between all of the elements in some ways - City Council, the Regeneration offices, the community people – in terms of the whole project in lots of ways and the direction it should go,” said Ms O’Sullivan.
“There is no point in kind of pretending there weren’t problems. There clearly were problems and the communities, as a result have suffered. Obviously I was aware of that [the tensions] and that was one of the reasons for bringing the whole thing in under one office, which will be located in the communities and which will report to the new over-arching manager,” she added.
“The current Regeneration Agencies will be disbanded on June 14, next, at which point Oliver O’Loughlin will take over as director of regeneration at Limerick City Council.
“What I am trying to do really is correct the things that have held the project up and in particular the physical regeneration side of it in the past. The reason for that is because there wasn’t the focus on everyone going in the same direction in the past and that is why I felt very strongly that it was important to bring it all under the one umbrella,” said Ms O’Sullivan. When asked about the leaking of minutes from confidential board meetings, Deputy O’Sullivan said it was unwelcome.
“All organisations have very robust arguments at meetings but at the end of the day they make decisions and they come out and they implement the decisions so I’m sure it’s probably not particularly welcome for the people who participated in the meetings to see it out there in public,” she said.
Speaking this week Brendan Kenny said the conflicting views of board members was a significant problem.
“There was not a shared vision,” he commented.