The Irish Examiner - Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Limerick regeneration plan ‘an investment that will pay for itself’

THE man whose report prompted the government sponsored regeneration plan for Limerick said it is an investment that will pay for itself in the long term.

Former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald said he would have been much more concerned about the economic downturn if they had the plan ready two years ago and were now looking for private and public sector investment.

He said: “In a way it is fortuitous that we are not at that stage now. By the time we get to that stage in a year’s time, I think things will have changed quite considerably and bottomed out. We will know, then, where we stand and how long it will take.”

The regeneration plan, he said is a must. The alternative to do nothing was not an option.

He said: “You can’t leave things simply as they are...”He said much progress has been made since he published his original report 18 months ago.

“It is really the beginning of the beginning. It’s a long haul programme to deal with issues that span generations,” he said.

Mr Fitzgerald added that he is confident that the necessary funding will come.

He said: “The tide has turned, but it will turn again by the time we get well into it [the plan]. Most of next year will be taken up at planning process.”

He said they have been receiving “phenomenal” support from both the environment and justice departments despite the economic change.

Mr Fitzgerald said the costing are “robust” and “conservative”.

Over the coming year they will have an opportunity to check out the private sector appetite to get involved.