Reading the recent Limerick Leader report on Limerick’s Regeneration project was a stark reminder of how much time has passed since John Fitzgerald issued his report of recommendations in April 2007.
The Leader report last week noted that approximately €258m has been spent on the Regeneration project since its inception. This sounds like a huge amount of money but when broken down year by year we realise that only €28m per annum has been spent.
When compared with the initial projected spend of €3bn we now realise that Regeneration has only operated at 8% of what was originally planned. This has resulted in a heck of a lot of demolition and a paltry total of just 110 new housing units over that 10-year period.
The Leader report is food for thought. There is no doubt that many of the issues our city faced regarding crime and anti-social behaviour are now under control. Credit for this must be given to Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan and his team at the Garda Siochana.
We must also take note of the fact that our country has gone through one of the most difficult periods of economic instability in modern times. So, perhaps we are slightly harsh if we expect the entire Regeneration budget to have been spent since 2007.
What might be of concern is the fact that Regeneration has been recognised as a crucial project when it comes to shaping the Limerick of tomorrow.
Since regeneration we have subsequently had the Limerick 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan – a project that is already starting to give commentators a little dose of the jitters.
We have plans to become an Age-Friendly City. We are Ireland’s Smarter Travel demonstration city.
The launch of Limerick Marketing Company in 2013 announced plans to double Limerick’s visitor numbers and was seen as a key aspect of the Limerick 2030 plan.
Limerick Marketing no longer exists and just last month we saw the announcement of the appointment of Limerick’s first ever tourism officer.
In 2013 Limerick was chosen as Ireland’s pilot city by Retail Excellence Ireland in a move to attempt to drive our retail offer in the city centre. This initiative quietly headed into the sunset.
From a branding perspective we are a Sporting City, a Riverside City, a City of Culture and a Gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way.
We have seen the launch of the Global Limerick Network which aims to connect our wide diaspora around the globe.
We launched a new cultural strategy a few months ago. We have Innovate Limerick. We are about to see the launch of a new special purpose vehicle to drive the 2030 physical projects.
All of the above suggests a city with great ambition. However, the above could also suggest a city that suffers from severe urban schizophrenia. We seem to be well able to recognise the things that need to be done to fix our city. We just don’t seem to be able to get them done.
Limerick is currently like a magnificent jigsaw where the thousands of pieces are scattered in a cacophony of disorder. It’s time we started putting the pieces together rather than adding more to the mix.