DEFENCE Minister Willie O’Dea came under renewed attack yesterday after admitting the Government did not have the necessary money to fund Limerick’s regeneration plan.
Huge plans were unveiled in October 2008 to transform large residential areas such as Southill, Moyross, St Mary’s Park and Ballinacurra Weston.
The Government pledged to contribute €1.7 billion to the scheme.
Last month, Mr O’Dea claimed he would “kick ass” in the Department of the Environment to get extra funding having been charged by the Taoiseach to get building under way by this spring. More recently, Mr O’Dea said the Government was committed to the regeneration plan.
Labour TD, Jan O’Sullivan, said yesterday: “Less than two weeks ago, the chairman of the Mid West Task Force, Denis Brosnan, felt compelled to come out publicly with the information that not one of their 20 recommendations had been implemented.
“Now, senior minister Willie O’Dea admits to a national paper that they haven’t had to guts to say directly to the people of Limerick, that funding for regeneration will not be delivered.
“How can our government ministers expect people in Limerick to have any faith or confidence in their ability to deliver for this city when they see no signals from government that Limerick is being treated as a priority for investment.
“The planned regeneration of housing estates, if funded, would provide a massive stimulus for the local economy through construction activity and much needed jobs.
“People are fed up of listening to inaccurate half baked promises from our local ministers and instead want some form of definitive action and commitment from Government.”
Ms O’Sullivan said making big promises which will never be fulfilled was playing with people’s lives.
“The problem with Minister O’Dea’s ‘bob the builder friends’ is that even if they wanted to build these planned houses, they cannot get the necessary finance from the banks.
“There was huge hope invested in the regeneration plans by hundreds of families and they are entitled to honesty and straight talking by Government. Why did the Cabinet endorse the masterplan for regenerating parts of Limerick if they are not going to step up to the mark and commit the necessary funding to enable physical activity to take place in these areas which in itself will give a tremendous boost of confidence to local communities?
“It is becoming abundantly clear with each passing day that unfortunately the people of Limerick and indeed the greater mid–west region are simply not being represented by our local government public representatives who don’t have the backbone to stand up for the people who elected them.”
Fine Gael’s Kieran O’Donnell, also claimed the plan was in a shambles.
“When the Limerick regeneration was announced over a year ago, it was regarded by the government as of such importance and priority that responsibility for the project was taken by Cabinet and it was assumed that local cabinet minister Willie O’Dea would have a major influence in advancing the project. Furthermore, the recent Brosnan taskforce report regarded regeneration as a major player in the future socioeconomic development of Limerick.
“In light of this, it is important Taoiseach Brian Cowen clarifies the situation and clearly spells out what the Cabinet have in mind for the advancement of Limerick regeneration during 2010. I will be raising the matter with the Taoiseach in the Dáil next week.
“People living in the regeneration areas feel let down and are losing belief in the project.”
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