In April 2015 some members of An Taisce in Limerick felt that the organisation in the city was weak and this was a regrettable given the rich heritage of the city and the likelihood that this would be threatened in the coming years. Following a meeting with John Harnett, Ian Lumley and Eoin Heaney in Dublin we undertook to develop a more Limerick focussed chapter. The intention is to build a local organisation into a strong, credible and respected influence on matters of heritage and planning in the city.
The initial task was to work to increase the local membership and profile through holding lectures and events. While we have not yet organised these we have managed to significantly increase the profile of the organisation through the use of social media (https://www.facebook.com/AnTaisceLimerick & https:/twitter.com/AnTaisce_Limk) and a blog (https://antaiscelimerick.wordpress.com) this has attracted some good attention and new members have become actively involved. We will proceed with organising lectures in 2016.
While developing the profile of the local organisation, we also made a number of submissions on important developments in Limerick. While we don’t agree that the new road to Foynes is necessary we advocated that if one must be built under the T-TEN framework then the route following the old rail line was significantly preferable to the route that would run parallel to the N69 along the southern shore of the Shannon Estuary. We made a submission on the proposed ‘public realm’ works on Parnell Street and Davis Street, and pointed out that this was primarily designed to facilitate vehicular traffic flows, and was poor in the area of public realm enhancement as it ignored many of the guidelines set out in the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets.
More recently we made a strong submission against Limerick Institute of Technology’s plans to develop a campus on the edge of the city. This will exacerbate the decline of the city centre and will greater undermine efforts to bring about a shift from car dependence to the ‘smarter travel’ modes of transport, i.e. cycling, walking and public transport.
An Taisce Limerick has also played a key role in organising a coherent opposition to a deeply unpopular and ill thought out project, led by the local authority, to construct an ‘iconic’ footbridge across the most sensitive historical and archaeological sites of the city. We intend to fight this every step of the way.
We are working to have an important role in the development of the city centre. Funding has been secured by the local authority for a revamp of approximately 800 metres of O’Connell Street. This will impact on the Georgian part of Limerick and it is important that there is a strong voice for the heritage and sensible development of the city at the table at an early stage.
Our task in 2016, as we see it, is to formalise the structure of the local organisation by putting together a committee with key roles for the active members. This will develop submissions to the local authority, work to increase the active membership, organise a lecture series, develop a local ‘buildings at risk’ database to feed into An Taisce’s national database, and generally strengthen the organisation locally.