End of an era as Limerick Regeneration Agencies close

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

THE board of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies will meet for the final time this afternoon before the agencies are formally disbanded.

THE board of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies will meet for the final time this afternoon before the agencies are formally disbanded.

Once disbanded, the newly created Limerick Regeneration Office - headed by Oliver O’Loughlin - will have responsibility for the regeneration programme.

Since the Regeneration agencies were established five years ago, €16m has been invested in projects in Moyross, Southill, Ballinacurra Weston and St Mary’s Park.

This equates to around 50% of the budget allocated by the government for Regeneration. More than €80m has been spent on other regeneration prjects - including the demolition of more than 1,000 homes across the city.

But there has been disappointment from residents that more has not been done - with some of the estates still looking the same as they did five years ago.

In October 2008, the final plans for the project were presented. These were to include the demolition of homes, and the rebuilding of new apartments, houses, and other mixed use facilities.

However, only a fraction of this work has commenced, leaving many residents feeling disheartened.

As well as this, deep policy-related divisions between Limerick City Council and regeneration have been laid bare.

But as he prepares to go back to Dublin City Council, where he will take on a role as a head of department, the chief executive of Limerick Regeneration Brendan Kenny insists he has “no regrets whatsoever”.

“I always knew it was going to be a tough job. There are lot of expectations, but I am happy we made a difference. We did not solve everything. You do not solve problems which have built up over 30 years in the space of five years,” he reasoned.

In a nine-page report, issued this Thursday morning, John Fitzgerald - chairman of the Limerick Regenertion Agencies - recalls his first meeting with residents in Moyross and Southill in late 2006.

“Where I was expecting anger and frustration, I found mainly a subdued sense of resignation - borne no doubt of the fact these people had seen in the past many new initiatives and official announcements that had led nowhere. Therefore, there was little or no expectation this initiative would be any different,” he wrote.

He acknowledged that while large-scale criminality has been significantly reduced in regeneration areas, there is still an “unacceptable” level of low-level criminality.

In the past few weeks, Mr Kenny has been attending gatherings organised by residents keen to thank his committee for the work they have done.

“They appreciate the small things which have happened. That we were very sociable, approachable, and we have made a difference,” he added. Mr Fitzgerald concluded: “We cannot lose sight of the significant steps forward that have been made in the last five years.”