Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The words of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in an 1849 issue of his journal Les Guêpes. Literally translating to “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”, this was a phrase that came to mind as I sat at a gathering of city centre businesspeople last week in the Hunt Museum.
|Limerick needs a more creative approach to solving perceived issues|
Organised by Limerick Chamber the event was entitled ‘Reimagining and rejuvenating Limerick City Centre’ and was an opportunity for city centre business leaders and stakeholders to have their say on where our city is going.
Attending events similar to these over the past seven years one can see a trend emerging. The same issues are raised. City centre safety and security, parking, events, footfall and the lack of quality new retail openings are top of the agenda.
It was disappointing to see that the latest of these meetings last week resulted in a headline highlighting the need for a new Garda kiosk and the fact that we have ‘feral’ children causing havoc in our city centre.
The duty of the media is to report the facts to the public. The facts that emerged from last week’s public gathering were that city centre stakeholders continue to see certain issues as barriers to entry to our city centre.
My experience of the city is totally at odds with much that was highlighted last week. I choose to live in the city centre. I have yet to experience one moment of intimidation by day or by night. Any urban environment will always have some form of unwanted element in its mix. Limerick is by no means a perfect city but if I was to listen to much of what was said last week I would be forgiven for thinking I was living in a city on its knees.
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Recent years have seen a fundamental mindshift with regards to how our city is perceived internally and externally. I recently met the head of a new business which is based in city who informed of the number of Limerick people who have now returned home to work for him. They openly comment on the new energy our city now exudes.
I am not a businessperson. I don’t have a till and I don’t rely on footfall to earn a crust. However, I try to advocate a positive approach to how I speak about my city. It seems to me that others consistently seem to want to raise the same old issues instead of proposing innovative, creative ways of putting our city on the map.
I believe now is a perfect time for looking to our younger population to provide new ways of looking at how we reinvent our city. The future will be about urban living. With urban living comes dynamic, community-led environments that cater for the needs of its citizens by day and by night.
I hope action will come from last week’s meeting. I hope not to attend another gathering where I feel like the proverbial dog chasing its tail. I hope creativity and the input of our young population can be placed higher on the agenda going forward.
I will finish with an Emerson quote as read to me last week by a retailer who will remain unnamed: