Limerick’s designation as City of Culture for 2014 will deliver a programme of cultural events and engagement in arts and culture by the citizens of Limerick and beyond, the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan told the Dáil.
In bringing artists, arts organisations, local authorities and civic groups in the city and county together in a calendar of events that will showcase all that the city has to offer, the initiative will generate a legacy locally and nationally.
“There are several excellent cultural venues in Limerick city which will have a central role to play in the 2014 programme of events,” he said.
“Any allocation by my Department to Limerick City of Culture 2014, in common with all other organisations and projects seeking funding, will depend on the outcome of the ongoing Estimates process for 2014 and it would be premature of me to go any further at this juncture.”
Replying to Sinn Fein’s Sandra McLellan, he said Limerick city is undergoing a process of profound change and 2014 will be an important year for the city, as it will be the year in which a new single local authority will be established.
The Limerick reorganisation implementation group, LRIG, is preparing for this change and the designation of Limerick as City of Culture will help to shape, brand and promote a new Limerick city.
The aim of the national city of culture initiative, Minister Deenihan said, is to deliver a programme of cultural events and engagement in a city for one calendar year and to build a longer term positive impact.
An EU study in 2004 found that the designation of European capital of culture served as a catalyst for the cultural development and transformation of the chosen city and it is aimed to replicate these benefits on the national stage through this initiative.
Government aware of mortgage impact on families
There is no doubt that families across the country are experiencing real and genuine difficulties in meeting their monthly mortgage payments, Finance Minister Michael Noonan told the Dáil.
Responding to a Fianna Fáil motion on mortgage arrears, he said this Government is fully aware of the impact this is having on these families and their lives.
“As I have said on many occasions in the past, we cannot have a situation where so many families are living under the stress of mortgage arrears, are excluded from participating in the economy and from living their lives because they cannot pay their mortgage,” he said.
In the past two and a half years he said the Government had taken a number of significant steps to address these problems.
“The measures that have been introduced are innovative and incorporate stronger protections for the family home than in other countries,” he said. “We want to produce an environment where mortgage holders can pay for and stay in their home, and where those who have genuine difficulty in meeting their financial commitments are provided with an opportunity to resolve their problems and begin again to contribute to society. The framework is now in place for banks to reach solutions with their customers who are in arrears, targets are in place and we expect the banks to deliver.”
The Fianna Fáil motion was defeated by 77 votes to 48.
Tribute paid to late Michael J. Noonan
A tribute to the former Fianna Fáil TD and Minister Michael J. Noonan was paid in the Upper House by Limerick Senator James Heffernan.
“Following his 30 years in public life he continued to be a valued community leader in Bruff and contributed to numerous excellent voluntary projects in the town, including voluntary housing,” he said.
“He was very much cognisant of the sacrifices made by previous generations and as secretary of the Seán Wall Commemoration Committee which commemorated ambushes in Grange and Caherguillamore, where many young men and women lost their lives for the cause of Irish freedom, was very cognisant of the fact that their memory should remain alive and be respected.
“Occasions such as the commemoration of our noble dead can be hijacked by various political interest groups. Michael Noonan opened them up to everybody, regardless of what party or none he or she was a member. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. Our thoughts are with his family.”