Michael Finucane, chairman of the Newcastle West Development Association, opening the launch of Newcastle West, Vision 2023 | Picture: Marie Keating
A POSITIVE note was struck by Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan and all the other speakers when the new five-year strategic plan for the town, Newcastle West, Vision 2023, was launched at the weekend.
“Newcastle West is a great town, it has a huge amount to offer people of all ages, and we are right to be very proud of it as a place to live, work and do business in,” Minister O’Donovan said.
“This plan is different from others, because it is a bottom-up approach to the future of Newcastle West. It was developed by local people here who know the town, its people and its needs, and unlike other plans, it has been developed in conjunction with, and with very strong support from, Limerick City and County Council.
“It is about more than physical infrastructure and aspirations,” he added.
“It is about community. It is about people.”
But he urged people to ignore the moaners, the begrudgers and the keyboard warriors who criticise “those who get up in the morning and try to do their best for their community”.
“There is far too much negativity around,” he continued, advising everybody: “Block them out and leave them behind.
“We are all in this ship together. We all rely on one another,” he said. “There is something in this that will enhance the quality of life for everybody.”
Newcastle West, Vision 2023, was a joint initiative of Newcastle West Community Council and the Newcastle West Chamber of Commerce and was funded by Limerick City and County Council. A draft plan was delivered last January but even before the official launch of the final plan, a key recommendation, to set up a development association to act as a single, representative body for all the groups and organisations in the town, had been implemented.
The association’s new chairman, Michael Finucane said, introducing the plan: “It is not set in tablets of stone. We can modify it as we go on but we are determined to succeed.”
He stressed the role of the association in implementing the plan and working in collaboration with the council. But he also said they would like to see a lot more people involved in a voluntary capacity in all of the organisations around the town.
Paddy Fullam, president of the Chamber of Commerce and now secretary of the development association said an amount of work had gone into the drawing up of the plan but “now is when the hard slog begins”. “We need to be up for the challenge,” he said and a meitheal approach, rather than the involvement of a few, was vital.
“We are off to a very positive start,” he said, but added that the partnership approach needed to be broadened and expanded.
“We need all the organisations in this community to buy into it,” he continued. Instead of people asking what are they doing, they should be asking ‘what can I do to make Newcastle West a better place to live in, to work in, to visit”, Mr Fullam argued. If everybody waited for somebody else to take action, nothing would get done.
Three things were needed to succeed, he continued: unity of purpose, clarity of focus and a positive approach.
“If people see real examples of progress, hopefully more of them will buy into the plan.” he added.
The plan, said Cllr Michael Collins, Cathaoirleach of Newcastle West Municipal District, was a blueprint which would allow the town to grow and prosper and was a “golden opportunity to focus on what is best for this town” in an organised and focused way. “There are very exciting times ahead. Let’s get on with the job,” he said.
Copies of the plan can be read at Newcastle West library or the council offices in Newcastle West or online on the Newcastle West Chamber of Commerce website.