After a decade of under investment in our public realm, Limerick City centre is in need of modernisation and rejuvenation. We are now being given the chance to build Limerick city as a truly sustainable city. We can harness this as a moment for considered long term planning in how we want our city to develop. We need to start planning for the city we want Limerick to be in 25, 50 and even 100 years from now. We can start today to build the infrastructure that will Limerick will need to be a sustainable city. The city needs an overhaul of public transport for people know they can rely on a service that is efficient and affordable, and can get them to all parts of the city without stress or delay.
A strong Limerick city is built on strong social ties and communities. We need to build a city that prioritises social connection, that allows Limerick people interact with each other in a pleasant and healthy city centre. The best social places work when you interact with your community without realising you are doing so, where it is natural to share a conversation or a joke with a neighbour without worrying about traffic or noise.
Before we can start such an overhaul of our city centre, we need to decide on where and how the city will grow for the next generation. The city should not repeat the mistakes of other cities across Europe, which were allowed to sprawl without thought for the consequences of such sprawl. People want to live in strong vibrant communities and we know that unthinking sprawl has been detrimental to communities across Europe. It is hard to know your neighbour when you do not have the time to spend getting to know them because you spend too long in traffic or because your local street is an unpleasant place to stroll around. When we talk about Limerick city, we mean a city all of us calls and considers home, in the best sense. We can learn from other cities on how Limerick can build on its already strong communities into an even better city to live in.
A well-planned city will encourage investment and jobs. It will help drive balanced economic growth. Limerick, and other major cities such as Cork, Waterford and Galway can then provide a counterbalance to Dublin, which is over-heating.
I recently called for Limerick city to adopt a “Tall Buildings Strategy” so Limerick can plan for future developments. We should embrace proper planning of our city to ensure that it is a pleasant place to live, work and visit. We should be ambitious in our plans. I do not see any reason why we cannot preserve the best parts of our heritage while modernising our city. I believe we have the ability and the capacity to rejuvenate Limerick without losing the remnants of medieval and Georgian Limerick. However, if we are to do so, we will need to plan to do so. We will need investment, we will need support from the Government. A vote for the Green Party is a vote not just for this generation who live in and love Limerick, but for those generations who will come after us. We want to be able to say we left them a legacy that we and they can be proud of.