The Chamber’s Autumn lunch took place this afternoon in Thomond Park and it was a huge success. Our guest speaker was Denis Brosnan who spoke about the recommendations of the two government appointed groups for the region which he Chairs, the Mid-West Regional Task Force and the Limerick Local Government Committee.

Denis started by giving an overview of the economic reality facing the region, particularly since the reduction of staff numbers in Dell since January 2009. He outlined the various recommendations of the interim task force report and informed us that the work of the task force shall be completed, if not by December, by early January. He hopes that this report will act as the blueprint for the future direction of growth and prosperity in the region.

He then went on to explain the rationale for the recommendations which the local government committee have made, particularly surrounding the contentious issues of including the greater urban area of Limerick into Limerick City and also the creation of one local authority for Limerick City and County.

I found Denis’s honest and frank approach to the issues facing the region refreshing. Every person and organisation in the region wants to see Limerick city, and the greater region prosper and reach its potential. Denis and his committees are more aware than any of us the challenges that face the region. They have examined these at length and their recommendations, I believe, need to be implemented as a matter of priority.

We as a city and a region need to support the recommendations. But we also need to ensure that any possible delays caused by the legislative requirements do not stop a city of 100,000 being put in place by 1st January 2011 where all that is required for that is a ministerial order. We hope that Denis and his committee can ensure that this can also happen in parallel with implementing the legislative framework for a single authority.

This is only one step on the road to recovery. However the longer we delay our support for these recommendations, the longer this region will suffer. As Denis so rightly acknowledged today, the recommendations on local government reform in Limerick is but one of the several issues which need to be addressed in the region. So lets support the leadership opportunity being offered to us and lets tick this one off the ‘to do’ list and get onto working on the next issue. This region needs to show its strength and show those in central government that we are a self-sufficient  region willing and able to take control of its own destiny.