John Gormley establishes Limerick Local Government Committee

“The need to put in place more effective local government arrangements for the Limerick area has been widely accepted for some time,” said Mr John Gormley T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, today (18 February 2010).  “The Limerick Local Government Committee, which I am establishing under the chairmanship of Mr Denis Brosnan, is being tasked today to advise me on the most appropriate solution”.

The Committee, established under local government legislation, has been asked to prepare a report into the most appropriate arrangements for local government for the city and county of Limerick. It will examine various options, including boundary changes, the creation of a unified city and county authority, and alternative arrangements to share and/or coordinate functions, administration and leadership between the city and county authorities. Continue reading “John Gormley establishes Limerick Local Government Committee”

James Nix secures progress on planning across Limerick City North

James Nix, the candidate in Limerick City North for the Green Party, has secured progress to bring a number of development sites into line with planning law.

Caherdavin – Davey site

Mr Nix, who specialises in planning and environmental law, has secured progress at the Davey site at Caherdavin Shopping Centre on the Derravarragh Road. Permission at the site was granted before the city boundary was extended on 1 March 2008 and the agreement between city and county provides that the county will remain responsible for permissions granted before the changeover. On foot of correspondence from Mr Nix, the city wrote to the county saying it was of the view that Mr Davey was in breach of planning law and urging the county to take action. On 26 May Limerick County Council wrote to Mr Davey instructing him to re-instate the green area within 21 days, and should he fail to comply with this, enforcement proceedings will be issued. Continue reading “James Nix secures progress on planning across Limerick City North”

Local leadership on the green economy can create thousands of Limerick jobs

James Nix, the candidate on the city’s north side for the Green Party, has encouraged Limerick businesses to apply for an EU fund worth €30 million, aimed at helping small businesses involved in green technologies and services to bring their products to the market. The €30 million fund is part of the Eco-innovation initiative, to support organisations that have developed an environmental product, service, management practice or process which has a proven track record, yet is not fully marketed due to residual risks.

“Limerick really needs this sort of funding, and it really needs these kinds of jobs. The funding is there, and the innovative small businesses are here in Limerick. The missing piece bringing the two together and I will make it my business as an elected representative to link both,” said Nix. “The Eco-innovation initiative is intended to overcome those barriers to further market penetration and turn these products and processes into Europe’s future eco-innovation successes. Applications from SMEs are particularly encouraged. “Tackling unemployment locally: this is exactly what we need political leadership for”, according to James.

Small and medium enterprises who wish to make an application for Eco-innovation funds should go to the relevant part of the European Commission website or contact James Nix directly for further information. James Nix highlighted the new EU fund saying the new city council must position itself to harness the green economy. This is an expanding sector, vital to securing new employment, he said. The question is how to translate opportunity to local employment.

Ireland’s west coast can be the Saudi Arabia of wind, with scope for 10,000 jobs in this sector by 2020, according to James. In Spain, 35,000 are already employed in the wind energy sector while Germany has created 64,000 jobs in this area, even though both countries have much poorer wind speeds than the west coast of Ireland. Danish figures show that 22 new jobs are created for each new megawatt of renewable energy.

The European wind map indicates how Limerick is ideally positioned to serve the wind energy sector. Located between counties Clare and Kerry, which have some of the best wind resources in Europe, Limerick’s location is ideal to service this expanding sector. Green energy projects provide opportunities at every stage of development from initial research through to manufacturing, construction, operation and maintenance.

There is now a need for political leadership to turn potential into reality. A green voice will help Limerick secure new employment in this sector. Turning to another area of the green economy, home insulation, the green party candidate said: “I have already canvassed at least 100 homes that have already used – or will use – the national Home Energy Saving Scheme. Nationally, the sector is worth 9 billion and is creating 2,000 jobs. One Irish company, Durkan Homes, recently announced 150 new jobs, and, under plans spearheaded by the ESB, over 3,000 jobs will be created by 2013 in areas such as smart metering, helping to cut energy costs for families. There are many examples of what can be done to harness the green economy. The town of Gussing in Austria has established 50 new companies in less than 20 years, producing energy from sustainable resources. The electricity and heat produced is supplied to local business, industry and private homes.

Preparing the path for the green economy is vital, according to James. Green jobs help protect the environment in sustainable ways for our children and grandchildren, while supporting our quality of life into the future. We should take a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book. The US will invest $150 billion over 10 years in the green economy, helping to create five million new jobs, slow down the use of resources and safeguard the environment. There is every reason to embrace this approach.

Limerick lags behind in the allotment stakes

Green Party candidate for the Castleconnell electoral area, Trish Forde-Brennan, is calling on Limerick County Council to catch up when it comes to the provision of allotment sites and supporting people to grow their own food.

“Right around the country from Galway, Cork, Waterford there are Grow-it-Yourself groups forming as more people want to eat locally-produced food and to have a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps we are rediscovering our agricultural roots but there is a real desire to work with the soil and produce our own food. Even Michelle Obama and her daughters are growing their own vegatables in the White House” she said. The grow it yourself movement is backed up with a 66% increase in sales of herbs, fruit and vegetable plants since 2002. For the first time in decades sales of fruit and vegetable plants are ahead of flowers . According to Bord Bia, sales of herb fruit and vegetable planta has increased from 9 million to 15 million euros.

“That is incredible.” said Ms Forde-Brennan . “With food prices increasing there is money to be saved by growing your own food. It is particularly frustrating that neither Limerick County or City Council provide Allotments or Community Gardens.” said Ms Forde-Brennan.” In local authorities such as Dublin South County Council and Fingal they have waiting lists even though they have increased the number of allotment sites being made available. Now, Kilkenny County Council and Cork City Council are making provision for sites, but Limerick is left behind again”

“I recently spoke to officials from both the County Council and the NRA and they have now committed to researching possible allotment provision. This will take to the end of Spring 2010. Such is the demand that I believe there is a market for both local authority and privately-owned allotments so long as they are leased at reasonable prices. With people having more time on their hands through unemployment, retirement and wanting a quality of life, growing one’s own food is very attractive.”

Ms Forde-Brennan hosted a meeting this week at the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel , where people from Castletroy to Raheen came together to voice support for allotment provision and to look for more information. Speakers at the meeting included Ms Forde-Brennan, Colin Fitzpatrick from the UL Farmers Market, Trish Shine, Mary Lyons from Teagasc and Valerie O’Connor from Vals Kitchen Blog. It was agreed to form a network and identify possible site locations and site providers. “It is clear that there is broad interest in this campaign and it appeals to all ages. What else could introduce new friends, save money, provide exercise, and help generate income?” said Ms Forde-Brennan.

New Irish Red Cross bike unit launched in Limerick City

A new bike unit was launched by the Irish Red Cross Limerick City Branch on Thursday March 18th after their public debut at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. This is only the second such unit in the country, the Irish Red Cross in Cork having introduced a similar unit in 2007.

The unit currently has 2 bikes, one of which was sponsored by the Bike Shop, O’Connell Ave., while Signs Plus (Eastway Business Park) sponsored the bike markings and striping. The bikes will be used at large public gatherings to facilitate first aid provision over a larger area and will also be brought to such events as point to points to facilitate quick access to casualties on vast courses.

These bikes are the latest addition to an existing fleet of 4 Red Cross vehicles in Limerick City (2 ambulances, an off road ambulance and a minibus). A national training course is being developed for such units and will take place in the coming weeks. All members of the unit are already trained in first aid to Intermediate and EMFR (Emergency Medical First Responder <advanced>) level and each bike crew will always have at least one EMFR.

Attending the launch was Mayor John Gilligan who commented on the benefit of such bikes to aid first aid provision. Also in attendance was Mr. Ted Noonan, Regional Director of Units. He noted his enthusiasm for the development of this unit and commended Signs Plus and The Bike Shop for their generosity in facilitating the unit.

For further info please contact Irish Red Cross Limerick PRO Hilary Parkinson: 087 6997574

Salute Grand Slam in completing riverside city walk

Limerick’s riverside should be enhanced to draw people to the city, including a feature saluting Ireland’s Grand Slam winners, according to James Nix, the local election candidate on the northside for the Green Party.

Calling for the completion of pedestrian route on Limerick’s waterfront, he said continuous walkway should run from the Shannon Bridge along the quays to Arthur’s Quay Park to King John’s Castle. Highlighting the project as vital to battling the recession, he said riverside walkway will bring residents and visitors alike into the city. We need to complete the work on both sides of the Shannon, he says, creating a unique 20 – 30 minute walk along the riverfront.

This will ensure visitors stay to enjoy our city, strolling at their leisure beside Limerick’s major attractions, rather than just getting on and off a bus at the Treaty stone. But, more importantly, with Irish people set to make fewer trips abroad, we need to look at providing attractive spaces to enjoy in our own city. The work on Clancy and O’Callaghan Strands has shown what can be done. Now we need to complete the job and complete the riverside walk.

Art should feature along the route. One idea which has been put forward is to a have a freeze of one of our winning rugby teams making the vital score to clinch a game. There is room for interactive art by the river. Imagine a freeze of all the Irish players as O’Gara launches the winning drop goal against the Welsh, said James. Players would be positioned in exactly the same position, with the same expressions, as they held the moment O’Gara’s boot struck the ball in the Millennium stadium to secure Ireland’s first grand slam in 61 years. This is the kind of attraction that pays tribute to Limerick’s sporting achievements. It will bring visitors from all over Ireland, redressing the tourism shortfall here, and take advantage of Limerick’s status as Ireland’s sporting capital.

Vital employment will be provided in enhancing the waterfront. Public works need not come at high cost. We can and should find a way that allows public works to be undertaken by construction workers who are also in receipt of unemployment assistance, so that the city can complete the riverside walk at reasonable cost. Such a scheme is already in place in Germany.

Tourism and shopping interests will also be supportive given the spin offs in their sectors, he said. James paid tribute to the work that has already been done on the riverfront, and thanked the people behind for highlighting the city’s potential and to artist Joe McNicholas for the idea of freeze-framing a team as it secures the match-winning score.