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Guest Post – New siege of Limerick?

June 2nd, 2010 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Bert McCann writes about the battle lines being drawn in the Mid-West

Before the skies darken into autumn  the plan to expand the Limerick City boundaries will  have reached  Environment Minister John Gormley’s desk. Saying that the issue has been controversial  is an understatement similar to describing  the Williamite siege as bit of a fall-out.  The ambitions of the metropolis though might yet result in a latter-day stand-off.  But this time neighbouring Co. Clare could be throwing up the barricades against the forces of its urban neighbour..

The city’s seeking for lebensraum goes way back.  The first ever coalition government, that of 1948-51 permitted expansion almost exactly sixty years ago. Another application  entered in 1974 remained unresolved before a chunk of the north county was handed over in 2008. Until then the troubled estate of Moyross was split with one half being the responsibility of the county and the other half  being in the fiefdom of the city. All of it is now within the walls a fact which may or may not contribute to civic peace of mind.

Paradoxically, it had in recent years the highest earned-income level after Dublin, a regeneration programme was in place, the arts were booming and the shops were alive with the sound of credit cards being swished.  However 40% of all housing was let to the less well-off and of course there ‘s the high mortality rate amongst  local crime figures. The latter images it seems aren’t particularly attractive to potential investors.

Recession descended, building halted and the brand new commercial development in the Opera Centre, having occasioned the closure of a large number of local businesses to make room for, itself failed to attract tenants.  The city again started to eye the countryside acquisitively. It was perceived locally that the county got the money and the high-end  companies and the town got the pain.

Minister Gormley set up the Limerick Local Government Committee in March to help find solutions.  When the Fine Gael city council then suggested the ingestion of its neighbour all hell broke loose.  The cry was no surrender.

A local journalist familiar with both domains thinks that,.

‘There’s a feeling that the city needs room to grow into a regional centre and that inward investment will be easier to attract if it cultivates a cachet associated with having prosperous suburbs.’

He continued,

‘ On the county side deep loyalties are involved aside from fear of major financial loss. ‘

Suddenly, peace broke out. The FG led  county council  agreed to go along with expansion and a  single council.  Reading the report of the decision in the Limerick Leader it seems that it may have dawned on somebody that savings set against rate loss means a net gain of €2m to the country side of the new conurbation. That arithmetic pleases voters say the local pundits.  So the county council supported the change  in  its submission to the LLGC which visited the region yesterday, speaking in camera with concerned parties.  Now everyone’s happy…?

Well, not really. The single authority wants to cast its line and reel  in a wee bit of  Co. Clare. This has provoked a popular uprising. Verbally, at least.  Last week John Cooke of Clare FM took his Morning Focus programme to one of the villages under ‘threat’. Under a banner reading ‘Not an inch of Co. Clare’ the plain people of Parteen talked of Limerick crime, dereliction spilling into the area and a representative of Clare Against the Boundary talked about all the benefit accruing to the city. Another woman decared she would refuse mail with Limerick in the address. A local publican said that Limerick has to be stopped at the river.

The Clare local councillors while softening a little towards the LLGC and the job its doing are of course compelled to follow the people’s lead., if they want to keep their seats. John Gormley who comes from these parts is standing back and letting his committee get on with it. But it is clear that Clare folk are not going to be netted easily. A 21st Century.siege and strong resistance might yet ensue.



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