THE area of Limerick City almost doubled over the weekend after boundary changes were put on the statute books by the Environment Minister, John Gormley.
The alterations, which were officially signed by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government on Friday, mean that more than 7,000 people in Caherdavin, Coonagh and Moyross, have become residents of Limerick city.
Over 100 people, including Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, as well as representatives from Limerick County and City Councils, were in attendance at the Watch House Cross Library in Moyross - one of the areas set to benefit hugely from the boundary changes - to witness the signing of the Limerick City Boundary Alteration Order 2008, the first land change for almost 60 years.
Addressing the audience, Minister Gormley said the change has been helped along by the people in the communities which are now part of Limerick City.
"Community involvement is a prerequisite for success. The community alone has the essential local knowledge for its concerns, needs and desires.
"It is truly an historical occasion, and indeed a joyous one for this county and city," he said.
Indeed, after the event, Minister Gormley refused to rule out further changes.
"It is a very sensitive matter and I think it needs to be looked at in the context of the forthcoming green paper and we can evaluate it from there. After that, we can have a real debate about what is required," he said.
However, the county council's Cathaoirleach Kevin Sheahan said: "The County Council has pledged its backing for an extension on a once-off basis in a full and final settlement of boundary issues."
Mayor Ger Fahy responded to this by stating the change represents a very small part of the county moving to within the city limits.
"This is an area of 1,020 hectares - less than 0.5pc of the area of the County. I am very glad to welcome the residents of the extended areas as new citizens to the City of Limerick," he said.
The city boundary extension comes as a result of the Fitzgerald Report, and the recommendations of Limerick Boundary Committee, which Minister Gormley set up in 2007.