The study says the city is socially polarised with a high proportion of areas that are either more affluent or more disadvantaged than the average city.
“What is unusual is the way these areas are segregated in geographical terms. There is a ‘corridor of disadvantage’ in the city extending from Moyross in the northwest through King’s Island to Garryowen, Prospect, Weston and Southill,” the study says.
Limerick - A Profile of a Changing City also finds the social divide is even reflected in internet access. Up to 50% of households in the middle-class areas of the city had the internet.
In contrast, less than 14% of houses in council estates such as St Mary’s Park, Prospect and Southill had the internet.
This divide between the haves and have-nots, states the report, must be addressed to allow Limerick realise its full potential.
The study, which will be launched in Limerick City Hall today by Environment Minister Dick Roche, was prepared by Des McCafferty, head of the Department of Geography at Mary Immaculate College, the University of Limerick and the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis.
Another significant finding is the major contrast between population growth in the city and its suburbs. Most suburbs are outside the city boundary.
In 2003, the population of the city and suburbs was 89,998, an increase of almost 10% in the preceding six years, and exceeding the national average of 8%.
However, the increase was unevenly distributed, with growth in the suburbs increasing at a rate of almost five times more than the city. The study says that the suburbs now have 41% of the population of the combined city and suburban area.