An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, was in Limerick today, November 22nd, to officially open the new state of the art Parkway Retail Park on the Dublin Road. Phase one of this €50m project, which is a joint venture development between Dunloe Ewart plc and Parkes Properties, encompasses 160,000 square feet and all of this Phase is full with only four units remaining to be let. The Park is an impressive addition to the new and vibrant Limerick and presents a very positive enhanced gateway to the City.
An Taoiseach presided over the ceremonial ribbon cutting before taking a tour of the facility and meeting and greeting the public. He then addressed assembled guests at a reception at which he was jointly welcomed to Limerick by Ms Brigid Teefy, the Cathaoirleach, Limerick County Council and Cllr John Cronin, Mayor of Limerick. The reception was attended by over 200 guests representing national and local organisations and business interests. Local Ministers Willie O’Dea T.D. and Tim O'Malley T.D. were also in attendance.
Speaking at the Opening An Taoiseach said "I want to pay tribute to everyone involved in bringing this retail centre to this stage of its development, which is the result of teamwork and vision. Limerick now has this very welcome development, which improves the quality of life for people in the city, and also creates 250 full-time equivalent jobs on an ongoing basis. This level of jobs and investment certainly is a vote of confidence in the future and the fundamental strength of the economy — which continues to grow ahead of our EU partners."
Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr.Bertie Ahern, T.D., at the opening of the Parkway Retail Park, Limerick, on Friday 22 November 2002 at 4.25pm.
I am delighted to be here in Limerick this evening to officially open the new Parkway Retail Park here on the Dublin Road in Limerick. I know it is an important event for the companies involved in this ambitious development, for the people who work here, and for the people of Limerick as a whole.
I have just travelled here from Scotland, where we have had a very good daylong meeting of the British Irish Council in Lanark. And it is certainly good to come back home this evening to this great city - renowned as it is "a gift that time has made to travellers on their way" - to quote the words of the great Limerick anthem "Limerick you're a Lady".
In many ways, this new development says more than any words of mine about the excellent commercial and economic relations between Ireland and Britain these days.
In fact I do not think that those relations have ever been better. And it is great to see flagship British companies such as Currys, PC World, Homebase and Carpetright getting more and more involved in the Irish market, alongside great Irish companies like Elvery Sports and Hickey's Fabrics. It is a win-win situation. Leading companies are getting a stake in the strong Limerick economy. And the shopping public is getting access to state of the art facilities and competitive prices too — right here on their doorsteps.
I want to congratulate everyone involved in this project, and to wish all who work and invest here every success for the future. I know it is Phase one of a €50m joint venture between Dunloe Ewart plc and Parkes Properties. Dunloe and Parkes are key players in the property scene for many years now and I wish them success with this project going forward.
Michael tells me that the next Phase of the Park has only 4 units left to rent and is set to open in March 2003. That is good news for Michael, because he will be able to concentrate all his energies from Spring onwards, supporting the Limerick teams! Michael and Ralph Parkes of course need no introduction to a distinguished Limerick audience, such as I see gathered here this evening. As a visitor, it seems to me that they combine some of the very important aspects of Limerick life these days. These include a strong interest in fine wine, great business acumen, loyalty and passion for Limerick's fine sporting tradition!
I know that days like this are always the result of investment, teamwork, hard work and vision. And I want to pay tribute to everyone involved in bringing this retail centre to this stage of its development. Well done to you all for making it happen — and right in time for the Christmas rush too!
The complexity of the project is shown by the fact that it involved one of our foremost Building contractors, PJ Hegarty, and a great team of six of our leading companies namely, Steve Cunningham & Associates, Henry J Lyons & Partners, Michael Punch & Partners, ARUP Consulting Engineers, PKS, Colin Buchanan & Partners, and Mitchell & Associates. I hope that each of you feels deserved pride in having brought the project to this point. Above all, I want to salute the nearly 500 people who were involved in the Construction and the "fit-out" of this state of the art project.
Thanks to your work, Limerick now has this very welcome development, which improves the quality of life for people in the city, and also creates 250 full-time equivalent jobs on an ongoing basis.
This is good news at any time. And it is particularly so in a time of tighter economic circumstances, due to the serious deterioration in world economic conditions. This level of jobs and investment certainly is a vote of confidence in the future and the fundamental strength of the economy — which continues to grow ahead of our EU partners. It shows I believe, that we should also keep our perspective, our confidence and our nerve about our excellent economic prospects as we tackle current difficulties.
If we do so, we can lay the foundations of continued growth for the future, based on financial discipline and on investment in priority areas like health, social welfare, education and infrastructure. This is the strategy we are now pursuing, and which we have set out in the Book of Estimates.
For example, this year the overall health budget will be just under €9 billion — an increase of €520 million on 2002 figures and almost 150% since 1997. Education is being allocated €5.6 billion — a €190 million increase compared with this years and a 77% increase in the past six years.
The gross allocation for the social welfare budget is €9.7 billion. On a pre-Budget basis, that is an increase of €300m on 2002 and a net €4 billion increase since 1997.
And €5.3 billion will be invested next year in capital projects - almost twice the equivalent rate for the EU generally.
A region like Limerick, which in so many ways, is a showcase of the success and the future potential of the Irish economy, knows more than many others the importance of continued investment in these key areas. We all know that the government can not do much about the ups and down turns of world markets in an increasingly globalised economy. But we can do two key things - to take stock of the new economic reality, and ensure that public spending is in line with it, while we press on to modernise our economy. That is precisely our plan going forward. Our goal is to secure jobs and to position this economy to take full advantage of the economic recovery, which will inevitably come once this period of great economic instability passes.
I believe that this realistic and balanced approach is the right one for Limerick and for the country as a whole. It will lay the ground for continued success here in Parkway and for business and foreign companies right throughout the region. And as we get on with that job, I want to wish everyone involved in this investment continued success too.
I wish all the management team and all the people who work in the fine companies located here success and happiness in this ultra modern retail park. I hope that you earn the lasting respect and the support of the great and discerning people of Limerick for many years to come.
Enjoy your evening.