People power works as University Limerick to buy Dunnes site that lay vacant for 11 years

06 April 2019

Labour local election candidate for Limerick City North, Anne Cronin has welcomed the great news that the University of Limerick will purchase the long vacant Dunnes Stores site on Sarsfield St.

Anne set up the Vacant Dunnes campaign group, together with people across the city, which has actively worked on getting the building and site back into use.

Anne went on to say:

“This news is being described as one of the most important developments in Limerick city for the past 10 years as the University of Limerick has announced it will purchase the vacant Dunnes Stores site, located on Sarsfield Street, on what is considered the gateway into the city.

“The Vacant Dunnes campaign that so many of us have been actively working on shows the power of people coming together to apply pressure when it comes to issues effecting neglected urban spaces, particularly at the hands of large corporations.

“Limerick city is at a crucial stage in its redevelopment and in its attempts to become a liveable city once more. ‘There have been some fantastic developments in our city over the past couple of years spearheaded by Limerick 2030 and the local authority. However, these are mostly targeted at inward economic investment and developed with the ambition of attracting companies and corporations to open office space in the city.

“The news from the University of Limerick on Friday is ground-breaking for Limerick as it comes at a time when Limerick needs more than economic investment, it needs civic spaces, public spaces, places for exchange of ideas thereby building our creative economy.

“In terms of using the site and the building our campaign group had one ambition and that was to highlight to Dunnes Stores that as customers of their stores we were not happy that this eyesore on the gateway of the city remain vacant for one more minute. It has been empty for 11 years and we were not going to stand by and see it decay any further. We viewed its non-use as land hoarding in a time of crisis and I wrote an open letter to Margaret Heffernan reminding her of same. Our group was not the first group that pushed Dunnes to act on this site but I believe that the city’s collective efforts – both political, community based and through active citizenship, meant that Dunnes were forced to act and we’re all very pleased that they accepted a purchase offer from the University of Limerick today.

“The University of Limerick is one of the foremost universities across Europe, and Limerick people are very proud to have such a high calibre educational institute on our door-step, however it has been on the door-step until now and this has been an issue. Many have argued through the years that UL move closer to Limerick City and support the city to grow its social capital and become more of a cultural hub. Today’s announcement brings this realisation very close, with the expected building opening in 2022 providing ‘a hub for developing and supporting enterprises in the city – bringing together law, business and technology’, according to UL President Dr. Des Fitzgerald in his statement.

“I decided to run as a Councillor in the local elections to effect change and support my community to achieve outcomes like this one today. I am very pleased to have been part of the story of this site and want to echo again that this collective effort is something we should all be proud of as a couple of months ago many of us were despondent after the court ruling that removed this site from the vacant sites register. A couple of months and some efforts later, the site is sold to the University of Limerick to provide a ‘new riverside university campus.”

 

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