Limerick Civic Trust provides backdrop to address corporate social responsibility

As Limerick CivicTrust launches its annual series of lectures, chief executive David O’Brien tells Pádraig Hoare about its work forging business and community partnerships.

Limerick Civic Trust provides backdrop to address corporate social responsibility

Limerick is a “melting pot” of cultures, education, business and community and the city’s historic and cultural projects provide companies with the perfect backdrop to address corporate social responsibility, according to the chief executive of Limerick Civic Trust.

David O’Brien says the upcoming Irish Examiner-partnered autumn lecture series, which takes place over the next six Thursday nights at St Mary’s Cathedral, can inspire everyone in the region.

“Limerick is a hard city to get lost in. It’s not big enough to be a municipality but it is far bigger than the parish pump. This place has been a great melting pot throughout history. Limerick employs perhaps 60% local people and the other 40% are being brought in, becoming part of what Limerick has always been —a great settlement,” he said.

The Limerick Civic Trust was founded in 1982 and is a self-funding charity which undertakes projects for the general improvements of Limerick’s environment in conjunction with local authorities, state agencies and other parties.

Mr O’Brien said: “The civic trust essentially has three pillars. It has restoration and heritage, it has the maintenance and care of the city, and we’ve got education and understanding which includes school engagement and things like that. So we have a hugely broad remit. It is a great way for companies to tick their corporate social responsibility (CSR) box. Rather than donate a lot of money to a single charity — which is a good thing to do — by engaging with us, we can take their employees on voluntary programmes, working within the community, we can deliver most of their CSR requirements through the different programmes we have.”

The trust has forged partnerships. “Particularly for the foreign companies coming into the area, it is a great way for them to engage. They get diverse networking through the civic trust, because ours is not necessarily a business community of people — it is a community of people interested in heritage and culture and various aspects of the community. There are seven corporate organisations involved with sponsorship and other events. There are four or five more in the background that have become involved in key projects over the years. But there are another 15 directly involved with different fundraiser activities that we do that maybe don’t sit on our board or aren’t annual contributors. They are not sitting on the sidelines but are not looking for the sponsorship or their name to be branded out,” Mr O’Brien said.

The lecture series, sponsored by the Kemmy Business School, Limerick Institute of Technology, and the Irish Examiner, starts with a speech by former HSBC chief Stephen Green.

Mr Green, formerly an Anglican priest, was previously minister of state for trade for the Conservatives in the UK coalition government between 2011 and 2013. He had stepped down as chair of HSBC in 2010. HSBC was immersed in a number of scandals, includng a US Senate report that the lender failed to regulate accounts linked to drug cartels in Mexico.

Quentin Peel of the Financial Times will moderate the event on September 14, under the theme of the “European identity — historical and cultural realities we cannot deny”.

On September 21, chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri will speak on immigration and integration with moderator Professor John O’Brennan. Jodie Ginsberg will speak on censorship on September 28, while journalist Simon Carswell will speak on “Trumpism, Brexit, and economic recovery” on October 5.

Architect Ian Ritchie will speak on October 12, while international property developer Roger Madelin speaks on October 19 on property developers.

Mr O’Brien said: “Stephen Green is not someone who will come in and give a glib 20-minute speech. He was chairman of the biggest bank in the world. Roger Madelin is an international property developer who does what he does from a social conscience. If you look at the projects he has done and how he has done them, like King’s Cross — it was one of the sleaziest centres in Europe 20 years ago. Now, major brands find it difficult to get a franchise in there. We’re not looking for mediocre guests, we are looking for people who can inform us and give us a bigger picture when it comes to a world view. That’s Limerick. It’s big enough to have that but small enough to have the community involved.”

Proceeds from this year’s autumn lecture series at St Mary’s Cathedral will go towards restoration works on St Munchin’s Church with the aim to open it as a museum.

Tickets are €12 for each event with concessions for members and students. A series ticket costs €55. They can be purchased through and will also be available on the door. Each event begins at 8pm. For further information, contact or call 061-313399.

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