Government must deliver on commitment to fund King John’s Castle 

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Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell outside King John's Castle

WITH the ownership of King John’s Castle transferring from the Shannon Group to Limerick City and County Council yesterday, the Government has committed to make every effort to ensure there is no shortfall in funding for the next three years.

The commitment was given by Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton in response to a Dáil question from  Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell who raised concerns over the set-up costs of facilities such as  financial and human resources; marketing and sales; IT systems and legal issues which are now the council’s responsibility.

Deputy O’Donnell said that 14 permanent staff, along with part-time staff contracted during the summer months, will automatically transfer from the Shannon Group to Discover Limerick DAC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Limerick City and County Council which has already benefitted from €500,000 of council funding.

In her response, Deputy Naughton said that the transfer of the Shannon Group’s heritage sites, including King John’s Castle, followed an approach from the Group to consider a comprehensive and radical adjustment of its structure. This was necessary due to the capital investment required to maintain the sites and the Group’s lack of expertise in maintaining them.

“As King John’s Castle is a national monument, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibilities in regard to its conservation and maintenance and has been carrying out the necessary assessment of the castle to inform the programme of works needed and the associated costs.

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Referring to any shortfall in operational funding, Minister Naughton said that the Department of Transport had asked the Department of Heritage to see what could be done bridge the funding gap.

” The priority is to ensure that King John’s Castle has the required funding to be viable into the future and the Deputy has my sincere commitment on that,” she concluded.

Responding to the Minister’s statement, Deputy O’Donnell said there was a need for initial Government support over three years to ensure King John’s Castle could get back to its previously achieved figure of 111,000 tourists per annum and much higher.

“I will continue to work with all at King John’s Castle, Limerick City and County Council and Minister Naughton and her Department to ensure this positive momentum continues and a funding stream is established as quickly as possible,” he added.