We live in challen-ging times, when many are without a job and almost all of us have less disposable income than was the case five years ago. In such a climate, newspapers – this one included – are accused of putting nothing but bad news and negativity on their front pages.
The argument goes that if they aren’t drip-feeding readers a regular dose of recessionary woe, they are opting for the shock-value delivered by serious crime – all on the basis that positivity doesn’t shift as many copies from the news stands. There are those who feel that local newspapers in particular should always accentuate the positive in their communities and relegate stories about crime or other serious anti-social behaviour to the inside pages. We beg to differ, but that is not to say that the Limerick Leader does not relish the opportunity to put positive stories in prime position. In fact, we like nothing better than good news stories - especially when they are on the scale of what we have been experiencing in recent weeks.
For the third week running, above the fold on page one you will find joyful tidings for Limerick. We hope it will continue but, as is always the case, that will be decided by events. This week, after the double celebration of Munster senior hurling success and the outstanding Bruce Springsteen concert at Thomond Park, we have had more good news on the double.
It would be premature to say with absolute confidence that the US-based biopharmaceutical company Regeneron will open its first overseas base at the vacant Dell manufacturing plant, but the indications are positive. It is not surprising that Finance Minister Michael Noonan has spoken only in the most cautious terms about the Regeneron story, for he was untypically careless late last year in his comments about another possibility linked to the same Raheen plant, namely the mooted call centre for Irish Water which went elsewhere. That is water under the bridge now and it is clear that missing out may have been a real blessing in disguise, because the possibilities offered by a major biopharmaceutical presence are infinitely more valuable to the Mid-West region.
Maria Kelly, the CEO of Limerick Chamber, was almost lost for words when asked by a Leader reporter to comment on the potential significance of Regeneron coming here.
Speak to those who understand the potential of what a world-leading biopharmaceutical company could mean for Limerick and her excitement is readily understandable. This is big – and not just in terms of the jobs it would offer to local graduates and the high-calibre people it would attract from further afield, boosting Limerick in so many different ways. There are also the support services that such a major employer would require, the countless spin-off benefits that would lift a lot of boats.
If we are guilty of getting carried away before the contract has been inked, that is because the people of Limerick understand all too well how critical it is that this key facility is occupied – and soon – after being empty for so long. Now that the prospect has been dangled in front of us, absolutely everything must be done to ensure that it becomes reality. After losing out on PayPal and Irish Water, Limerick will not tolerate another near-miss.
The second major piece of cheering news, of course, was the triumph of the Limerick minors in their Munster hurling final replay in Thurles. These are heady days. The first Munster senior and minor double since 1940 is a wonderful achievement and the indications are that everything is in place to allow the county to fulfil its serious hurling potential. At the very least, we live in hope.
Good news, indeed!