It was with great surprise and delight that I learned on Friday that Limerick City Council and Limerick Regeneration Agencies had been granted central funding by Minster Hogan (although I imagine Minister Michael Noonan played a pivotal role as well as Minister Jan O’Sullivan too) to purchase the current vacant site, and eyesore that is the Opera Centre in the heart of our City Centre.

This new & innovative approach by central government, to fund-aid local government, to purchase opportunities to drive and deliver local economic growth is inspired and to be congratulated. This is an example of how local government, via the vehicle that will be our transformed new Unitary Limerick Authority, can actively participate and lead regeneration within our City’s core and by doing so facilitate enterprise and job growth. Such active participation by both national and local government may be a key model to drive and deliver future viability for towns and cities across the country.

The site presents an opportunity to explore a wide range of uses to enhance the city centre: ideally whatever form the building takes – be it a mixed-use of commercial, retail, residential, cultural, arts… the list is endless – one thing is for sure, the potential is great for the space to become a hub and focal point in the city to compliment the existing offering of cafes, bars, restaurants, museum’s, gallery’s, retail etc that the city currently offers. Yes – it’s an exciting time for Limerick and the Chamber look forward to working with the various bodies in creating an interim use as well as long-term master plan for the site integrated with a master plan for the city.

May the creative juices and minds that came up with this innovative new approach continue to flow and work with the various key stakeholders to deliver and drive transformation in Limerick…

I wish to acknowledge and congratulate all involved – particularly Denis Brosnan, Tom Mackey, Brendan Kenny and Mayor Jim Long as well of course to our national Ministers.