CHRISTMAS was on the minds of councillors in the Limerick Metropolitan District last week as they called for greater input in festival activities for 2023.
Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin, on the third Monday in January (Blue Monday), called on the local authority to arrange a workshop to consider measures to ensure that they maximise potential to increase visitor numbers.
Cllr Leddin described the presentation and lack of proper hoarding at the Christmas Village in Arthur’s Quay last year as “sloppy and disgraceful”.
He also felt it was “hugely disappointing” that the ferris wheel was not on site over the festive period.
“We fell at the last hurdle. There is room for improvement and we must put our best foot forward,” he told the council executive.
The City West representative pointed to the success of Winterval in Waterford, Ireland’s largest Christmas festival, and believed there should be no issue emulating it.
“There are 21 councillors across the table. We need a cross-party workshop. This is the best way to go forward and ensure we put on the right events,” Leddin declared.
His party colleague Cllr Conor Sheehan seconded the motion but pointed out that you “get what you pay for”.
He guaranteed that if they were to talk to Waterford County Council they would find out they had paid a lot more for their Christmas offering.
“We need to look at the financial side and put in place a financial plan to be able to do this,” he suggested.
“The Milk Market was completely magical at Christmas. They had all kinds of artisan gifts. They are doing a brilliant job and we need to push that out there.”
Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan took the view that it wasn’t about criticism but pointing out what worked and what didn’t.
“Some things worked really well like the Bedford Row experience,” she said.
Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler felt ‘A Christmas Tale ‘at King John’s Castle was very positive and suggested that this was something that could be built upon.
Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon (FF) said he was “certainly happy” with the offering in Arthur’s Quay.
“I brought my own grandchildren, it was very positive. We could do a lot more. I was in Newcastle for a wedding in December and they have a great Christmas fair. Galway can do it, Waterford can do it, we just need to plan ahead,” Cllr O’Hanlon told council members.
Labour Party councillor Elena Secas called for the Council to get its act together.
“This is a very timely motion. If you look around the country, the best Christmas festivals were in Galway, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wicklow. Limerick wasn’t even amongst them. We can do better than this,” she insisted.
Cllr Sarah Kiely (FG) said she considered the surface in the Christmas Village in Arthur’s Quay “not accessible and mucky”.
“It wasn’t the right space for this time of year. A workshop is needed. We have an obligation. We are the voice of the ratepayers and it is important they are heard on this,” Cllr Kiely commented.
“Shops on Wickham Street and High Street were promised additional lights three years ago and nothing has happened. I am asking that you look at strings of white lights for the outskirts of the city. It would add a lot of character to the smaller streets and people could walk safely.”
In response, the Council said that it will organise a workshop with members to consider measures for Christmas 2023.