At this year’s Limerick Chamber President’s dinner the CEO of Limerick Chamber James Ring outlined the vision of the Chamber, its policy priorities and its vision to work a strong region on the West of Ireland.
With thanks to James and his team, the full text of his speech is below.
Last year’s Presidents dinner was held a week earlier, and on that night the tragic shootings took place in Paris that shook us all. I think, a year later, on this night of celebration it is important to remember those innocent souls who lost their lives that night.
I think also it would be remiss of us not to remember two great ambassadors and icons for Limerick – Terry Wogan and Anthony Foley, who passed away during the year. They are just among many in our thoughts tonight.
This year has seen a lot of internal change in Limerick Chamber. We have undergone a large restructuring process and with that comes worry and uncertainty for staff and I want to pay a special tribute to my team who carried out their duties with great professionalism throughout this period and kept the show on the road and more importantly have embraced the changes in work practices, but more importantly in the culture of the Chamber. I think the fact that despite this major change, the Chamber membership has grown by over 30% this year, is testament to their hard work so thank you.
We are doing our business differently. We recently surveyed you our members, we asked you what was good and what was bad. We wanted a warts and all frank assessment of the Chamber and we got it, but more importantly we listened and acted on it.
We broke our membership up into 3 strands, Corporate, Retail and Hospitality and SME. This allowed us to better tailor events and networking to suit our members’ needs. We have the biggest network in the region but you have told us to use it more effectively, you want better networking opportunities, you told us that you want expert led events and many other simple tweaks. We have started this and it has resulted in a dramatic turnaround in our event uptake, crucially with the right people in the room. We will always focus on quality in our events.
We have just hired a new Director of Policy who will build upon the great work started by her predecessor in increasing the impact of our policy positions. We are working alongside our corporate partners, whose logos you see beside me. With our membership voice and with its weight and influence behind us, we can drive home the policy priorities for this region. We have just seen an example of this in action with this week’s announcement that the M20 preliminary planning is to recommence. This followed on from the corporate partners most recent dinners with Michael Nolan, CEO of the TII as well as Minister Noonan, who were both left in no uncertain terms of the importance of the road for balanced regional development.
Our other priorities are
- Foynes Road upgrade – critical for the future development of our Ten T port
- Northern Relief Road – our councillors need to find a solution to the issues they have as it is critical for our city’s development
- The City Centre – we are all behind 2030 but we need to see action and we believe it is imminent.
So what is next? Last year my message was to behave like geese. This year my message is to take off the GAA jerseys and let’s behave like a region.
Limerick will struggle to compete on its own, as will Clare and Tipperary. We can no longer afford to waste time competing with each other. However, if we take off the county colours and start meaningfully working together to attract investment and jobs into the region, we will have a real chance.
We must stand together and the bigger picture must always be in view.
We might survive on our own but we will not thrive. So I say enough of the parish pump politics, enough fighting for the scraps off Dublin’s table. Let’s stand together with one voice and I would include Galway in this conversation. There’s a natural fit, a real resonance about a Limerick, Galway, Shannon, Ennis corridor. A real alternative to Dublin.
I look around the room and I see the leaders of this region; political, public and private. So I leave you with one question. As leaders, will you hand over a region or city, town or village to your children that is just threading water or will you hand over one rising up and powering ahead. My gut instinct, with all that is happening and the very positive juncture we are now at, the answer is the latter.