Economist urges University of Limerick to buy city campus

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

UNIVERSITY of Limerick economics lecturer Stephen Kinsella has called on the institution to “buy up Limerick” and develop off-campus teaching centres.

UNIVERSITY of Limerick economics lecturer Stephen Kinsella has called on the institution to “buy up Limerick” and develop off-campus teaching centres.

Speaking in the Carlton Castletroy Park hotel yesterday, Dr Kinsella echoed the advice of the late author Frank McCourt, who also urged the university to embrace the city.

Addressing over 100 business people in the region, Dr Kinsella said UL is a “corporation..which will never leave Limerick, and will be here for hundreds of years.”

“I’m not saying they should buy the Opera Centre, but they [UL] should start small, and develop satellite campuses,” he said.

Dr Kinsella said he has had this idea for a number of years and since moving from New York five years ago he was “instantly obsessed with the idea of the future of Ireland”.

Living in Limerick also inspired his book, ‘Ireland in 2050’, he said. He said the city has stagnated and is in danger of dying, with a 31 per cent drop of investment in the past two years. But he admitted that since moving to Limerick he has probably been to the city just “20 times”. “I had no need to go in there, no particular desire,” he said.

He urged that we need “tax breaks to help beautify the city”, and also urged Limerick should be seen as the city of change, not the city of sport”, according to the Leinster rugby fan.

He admitted he had not yet approached the university with a “half baked idea”, but said he believed his proposal would represent “a sea change over three presidencies, not one” and needed some debate and feedback.

“The logic is simple and the data is compelling,” he said of his argument.

But he recognised “there are loads of brilliant ideas that don’t work”.

“The buy-in from UL is zero because I haven’t asked,” he said.

However, an architect in the audience pointed out that UL is already making small steps towards connecting with the city, particularly through the School of Architecture.

While the principal speaker at the address was presidential candidate Sean Gallagher, most questions from the audience were addressed towards Dr Kinsella.

Denis Cahalane, the general manager of Barringtons hospital, queried: “How long has this idea been thrown around?” He also called on Mr Gallagher to put an end to cronyism in Ireland and make the presidency a non-passive role if elected.