Limerick’s Milk Market 'grossly underfunded’: Leading businessman calls for support

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Support: Peter Ward, who runs Country Choice in the Milk Market

Support: Peter Ward, who runs Country Choice in the Milk Market

THE Milk Market is as important to the city as the University of Limerick, the Markets Field and Thomond Park – and needs to be supported.

That’s according to one of its top traders, Peter Ward, who runs Country Choice, and has this week called for better support from councillors for the landmark facility.

Mr Ward, who addressed the metropolitan meeting this week, said at least 200 people derive all, or a part of, a living from the market, and urged the local authority to place the market “at the heart” of its economic strategies.

“The market is grossly underfunded. Traders need for the market to be closer to the city. There are no formal links between the market and cultural events like EVA,” Mr Ward said.

Ideally, the businessman said, the council could underwrite the insurance costs of the Milk Market, and give it a marketing budget.

“If I was in the Milk Market for a profit, I’d be long gone. I am in the Milk Market as I feel it is an important facility. I love it,” he said. Fianna Fail’s candidate for the overall council mayoralty this Friday, Cllr James Collins, believes the local authority could intervene and use money from a discretionary tourism fund which is administered by local members.

“We have a food strategy but to develop a food culture, we must do so around iconic places like the Milk Market. Other cities have celebrated their markets and promoted them endlessly. Our Milk Market is celebrated by the people of Limerick – even if the Queen of England hasn’t dropped into Rene Cusacks,” Cllr Collins said.

However, the councillor said an issue exists whereby people simply do not realise the market also operates on Fridays and Sundays, as well as its busiest day, Saturday.

He also said the councillors must look to use the Potato Market, which like the Milk Market, is administered publicly, as something other than a car park.

“It’s a beautiful riverside spot, that should be opened to allow unobstructed riverside walks,” he said.​ Metropolitan mayor, Cllr Daniel Butler added: “The Milk Market is an incredible resource, and we all value it. There is a huge responsibility on us to do better.”

Mr Ward said during the snowstorms of March, his staff made a “Trojan” effort to ensure the people of Limerick got bread – at a time when many supermarkets had sold out of pans entirely.

“They felt a deep sense of public duty to provide bread to our customers in Limerick. We felt an obligation, if you like, to provide food for the 100,000. That obligation must been to be effective,” he warned.