LIMERICK is throwing off the “negativity” that has held the city back and can look forward to a more prosperous future, according to Denis Brosnan, whose work has paved the way for a new single authority for the city and county.
Speaking at the launch of Limerick Chamber’s MidWest Business Awards, Mr Brosnan said that while “huge and significant change” was on the way, there would be “no magic results overnight”.
“It’s going to be a long, slow haul to actually change the city and bring it back to its former glory,” Mr Brosnan said.
In recognising the contribution of local business in bringing about that change, the Chamber awards were an “opportunity to get people thinking” how that change would come about, he said.
“Our Minister for Finance said at a function two or three weeks ago that the real change will come about in the minds and attitudes of all the individuals. I’ve used the phrase Stop Knocking Limerick and I think that era is gone; when we now start singing the praises of Limerick and say that Limerick has changed and Limerick is changing. Limerick will never again be the city of negativity which we probably went through for a while and a city, in fact, where we often blamed one another rather than getting involved.”
Mr Brosnan recognised the efforts of government in committing to the reorganisation of local government and job creation structures in the Limerick region and said that a masterplan being drawn up for the urban area would be the foundation on which the new Limerick would be built.
“I’m glad to see the master planners have been visiting and talking to many in Limerick who want to have an input and I know the Chamber has had a significant input. Let’s get it right. It isn’t for me or for any of our working group to write the script as to how Limerick can be changed. It’s for all the people of Limerick. The consultants are consulting widely as they are supposed to do and towards the end of the year they will give us the roadmap for the future economic expansion of Limerick as well as the spatial design of the city,” said Mr Brosnan.
Confirmation that Limerick is to be the inaugural national city of culture in 2014 was to be welcomed as “one piece in the jigsaw” in the “rebranding” of the city over the next few years, Mr Brosnan said.
Tom Enright, who is secretary of the Limerick Reorganisation Implementation Group, was heading up this effort.
“Tom and I know very clearly that what we are trying to do is a five-year programme on the rebranding of Limerick. We want everybody to be involved in this rebranding and we want everyone to think positively on what the new brand for Limerick will be. The consultants are working on it and we intend ourselves to put together, as our work comes to an end, not just a full-time executive office but a strong board of directors involved in and working for the new local authority and the new manager - and they will get involved in putting their weight behind the rebranding of Limerick,” Mr Brosnan said.
And that appointment of Conn Murray as the new manager for Limerick city and county was “another significant milestone along the way”.
On his work with the regional jobs taskforce set up in the wake of thousands of job losses at Dell and associated companies in 2009, Mr Brosnan said the government had recognised that the job creation structures in the region - with 17 agencies on a crowded field - needed to be rationalised and strengthened.
“I remember that a number of those in power today, be it Fine Gael or Labour, were criticising and saying ‘hurry up and do something’. Talking to the leaders of those parties at the time, I mentioned to them that nothing would happen quickly and that because the structures in Limerick were so awful that until we actually got the structures right, you would never actually change the city,” he said.
But progress had been made in that regard, he said.
While Limerick’s enduring high rate of unemployment and “substantial net loss” in IDA jobs in recent years had to be recognised, Mr Brosnan said he was “delighted” to see the IDA had now become “more seriously involved” in Limerick.