'There is a huge can-do spirit from the top down' – city plans to be at centre of revival

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Ireland’s third largest city is set to pioneer a recovery plan that combines “outside the box” thinking with a realisation the nation now faces the start of a new normal.

Limerick is pursuing a 10-point action plan that aims to make the city and its environs an attractive place for shopping, exercise and family friendly activities.

With an expected surge in ‘staycations’ because of the pandemic’s impact on foreign travel, Limerick aims to capture a significant slice of that market through its cultural, artistic and leisure attractions.

“Limerick has a key economic role to play in the national recovery from Covid-19,” Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell said.

The Fine Gael representative said it was vital cities “look to identify innovative ways of getting businesses reopened and people back into employment”.

“In a Covid-19 dominated world, we must think outside the box to kick-start this recovery,” he said.

Limerick City and County Council chief executive Pat Daly is co-ordinating a recovery plan not just for Limerick city but major mid-western towns and villages including Newcastle West, Adare, Kilmallock, Askeaton, Hospital and Foynes.

“The collaboration that dragged us out of the economic crash at the end of the 2000s and put us on an unprecedented growth path that we have been on since is serving us well in this time of need,” Mr Daly said.

“We showed remarkable resilience back then and we learned a lot of lessons, among the biggest being that any response to a crisis has to be employer-led and that’s exactly what is happening now.”

Mid-West Covid-19 Recovery Group chairman Dr Eamonn Murphy said it was vital that all local interests work seamlessly together.

“Before Covid-19 there were 220,000 people employed in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary and 48,000 were in tourism, retail, hospitality and allied sectors,” he said.

“These sectors have been dealt a massive body blow that is threatening to undermine the incredible economic success of this region over the past decade.

“The establishment of the Regional Covid-19 Response Group and the strides already made in such a short time reflects the unrivalled degree of cohesion and collaboration here in the mid-west and that will give us a very significant edge in spearheading the Covid-19 recovery,” he added.

“There is a huge can-do spirit here from top down that is not alone going to get us through this very difficult patch but position us as a European best-practice region for the future.”

The challenges, however, are historic in their nature as underlined by the University of Limerick (UL), a key hub of the mid-west economy.

UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald signalled he would step down from his role later this year as he warned the Covid-19 crisis would shape the university sector for a decade to come and pose major challenges to both business models and funding streams.

Irish Independent

Source: Irish News