Council told move on with O’Connell Street works

Work under way on an earlier section of the O'Connell Street redevelopment project.

LOCAL business owners and public representatives have raised concerns over the stoppage of works on the €9 million upgrade of O’Connell Street all last week.

Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan told the Limerick Post that councillors were not informed about this stoppage and are unclear as to why work unexpectedly stopped for a full week.

“St Patrick’s Day is quickly approaching and it is vital that we make as much progress as possible on this project before the festival takes place,” Cllr Sheehan said.

“This is our first opportunity to showcase Limerick to international visitors since 2019 and the last thing we want is for our city centre to look like a building site.

” I am relieved to hear that the contractor has resumed work this Monday as we cannot afford to have anymore work stoppages if we are to get this major project finished in time.

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“We can see already how much better the public realm is on the completed section and it is vital that work continues apace to ensure the rest of the project is completed on time,” he added.

His party colleague Cllr Joe Leddin also called for the work to be progressed at a faster pace to ensure completion within agreed timelines.

Cllr Leddin raised concerns that since the New Year there appears to be “slower progress and fewer workers on the project”.

“This is the most ambitious project undertaken by the Council and it is also the most time sensitive as this is our primary street with works also being undertaken on adjacent streets including Thomas Street and Cecil Street,” he commented.

“I am being asked on a weekly basis as to the timeframe for sections of the project to be completed and more formal briefings with the contractor as elected representatives on the status of this €9 million project are required.”

He went onto call on ShareRidge, the contractor for the O’Connell Street project, to employ more resources in terms of skilled workers to advance the completion of the works.

“Despite the original timeframe of August for completion, every effort must be made to prioritise the various phases to ensure the people of Limerick and visitors can enjoy high quality public realm during our tourism season.”

Fine Gael councillor Sarah Kiely told the Limerick Post that she has also been contacted by several traders who are very concerned about the works stoppage on the O’Connell Street project.

“They are incredibly frustrated. The delivery has been problematic and they just want it finished as soon as possible now,” she explained.

Local businessman David Whelan of Whelan Cameras on O’Connell Street reiterated councillors’ call for faster progress. He pointed out that while he is all for the upgrade of the city’s main thoroughfare, the delays in finishing the job, he said, is impacting on businesses.

“Look around you, there’s no one in the shop. There has been no provision for deliveries either and it is going on since March last year. It is very frustrating for businesses and shoppers alike,” Mr Whelan said.

“There is no continuity. There are one or two workers on site one day, then the next day they are off working somewhere else. At the moment, the delays are driving people out of the city to the shopping centres, and who could blame them?

“The plan was for the rugby museum to draw people into the city, but they don’t seem to be able to see beyond that at all.”

A council spokesman said: “The contractor wasn’t on site on O’Connell Street this week and, following engagement by Limerick City and County Council, ShareRidge has given assurances that they would be back on site on Monday morning to continue with this important project.”