Limerick Chamber president Dr Mary Shire: ‘The city needs a cultural heart’

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Chamber president Dr Mary Shire, pictured with the former Minister for Finance Michael Noonan at the awards

Chamber president Dr Mary Shire, pictured with the former Minister for Finance Michael Noonan at the awards

THE Chamber president has warned against putting too many offices in the city centre, saying Limerick needs a “cultural heartbeat.”

Dr Mary Shire of the University of Limerick used her keynote address at the Limerick Chamber business awards to also call for more house building in the city centre – but she acknowledged this could only happen if the margins become more attractive to investors.

Saying house prices in Limerick remain below the national average, she said: “It’s great to have low house prices, we do have a housing shortage, particularly in the city centre, and low prices don’t make the margins attractive for investors.

“The city centre is still lacking the vibrancy we need and Limerick 2030 will help, but we need to make sure we have more than just buildings – but also a cultural heartbeat.”

Important to Limerick’s renewal, she added, is creating opportunities for people in unemployment blackspots – and key to this is training. 

“Technology has and will continue to change areas like transportation, communications, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and education. We need to navigate this complex new world, and we need to do it at pace. Talent will be central to our ability to compete. Already in pretty much full employment, talent has become a challenge for us and when you look at high-tech, the challenge is particularly acute. We need to reskill, upskill, and diversify the workforce," she added.

As for the Chamber, its new chief executive Dee Ryan is putting in place a new strategy to continue to make the organisation more valuable to its members.

“We will focus on supporting our three strands through bespoke services and aim to be an exemplar in terms of policy development and influencing to ensure Limerick and the Mid-West is represented,” Dr Shire said.

More than 400 business and political leaders were at the annual Limerick Chamber business awards in the Strand Hotel.

The overall winner was the Shannon Group, which employs 650 people across its four entities.​ They won the overall company of the year, as well as the title of best contribution to the region.

There were prizes for Plassey’s Electricity Exchange, which won best emerging business. The best SME business was Rathkeale energy company Design Pro.

Optel Group from Raheen won the award for best corporate social responsibility, while Masterchefs took the title for best retail and hospitality business.

The best not-for-profit award went to Novas Ireland, for its sterling work on dealing with homelessness. The award for best employer went to telecommunications giant Three Ireland.