Limerick councillors told: 'Park objection or the fun will stop'

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Limerick councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh was unhappy at not being able to access the playground during the World BBQ event at People's Park

Limerick councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh was unhappy at not being able to access the playground during the World BBQ event at People's Park earlier in the year

LIMERICK could miss out on high-profile outdoor events if plans to stop festivals taking over its parks are passed by council, a high ranking official has warned.

Members of the environmental committee have passed a motion urging council bosses to block public parks being closed “in order to benefit private, profit-making events”.

With the recommendation now going to full council, Ger Dillon of City and County Council’s environmental department said: “If Limerick is successful in getting an Electric Picnic-type event, would the council not be able to consider the benefits and the visitors who will come? This motion could rule out this opportunity.”

The People’s Park has in recent weeks been closed off for the World Barbecue Championship, which charged €10 for entry, with Arthur’s Quay park currently playing host to Limerick on Ice.

Now, Cllr Séighin Ó Ceallaigh, who penned the motion, says park areas must be kept open to the public.

“We are effectively looking at privatising our parks here. Charging people to go into the parks which their taxes have paid for,” he said.

The father-of-two was furious at not being able to access the playground during the barbecue event, adding: “Why are we stopping people going into a publicly owned playpark? It’s not like they were barbecuing under the see-saw. It’s crazy.” ​

Cllr John Gilligan said any private events held in public parks should not attract an entry fee: “In principle, closing a park and charging entry is totally wrong.”

And Cllr Marian Hurley, a former tourism executive, added: “My gut feeling is there are few enough places to go, and even fewer things for families to do which are free.”

She said the People’s Park is not suitable for licensed music events anyway, pointing out the inclement weather which dogged the last time one was held there back in 2014.

Cllr O Ceallaigh said opening even parts of the park would do no harm to anyone.

“So these big businessmen may only make €250,000 instead of €500,000. What about the child in the city who has no garden to go into?” he asked.

Cllr Gilligan said in extreme cases, councillors should be allowed offer dispensation for big events to take place.

”It would give us an option, without conceding the principle,” he argued.

Mr Dillon claimed for “99.5%” of the year, the city’s parks are not closed.