THE Dáil has been told that Limerick will struggle to attract people and jobs if the city doesn’t have an adequate healthcare infrastructure.
Limerick Green Party TD Brian Leddin raised the issue while speaking in support of plans for a 150-bed unit at St John’s Hospital in the city centre.
Deputy Leddin told Minister of State for Health Mary Butler that the “city and region is expecting and targeting steep population growth in the coming years”.
“Indeed, I believe that kind of growth can happen only if infrastructure projects such as that proposed for St John’s are developed.”
Speaking about the urban sprawl that has affected the city centre, he said that “UHL was one of the first outward pushes of the city in the 1950s. The suburb of Dooradoyle sprung up around it. It was because of this and a series of other major suburban developments that the city centre fell into decline.”
“St John’s, of course, is very much the heart of old Limerick, which suffered so badly over the decades due directly to the policies of unfettered greenfield development. Now we are bringing the old city back to life in many Limerick are involved in this effort. In the coming years, tens of thousands of new citizens will live near St John’s Hospital.”
Deputy Leddin said that supporting the St John’s proposal to develop a 150-bed block would have a “powerfully positive impact on a city that can and should have bold ambitions”.
“It would make Limerick City stronger, and a stronger Limerick City would deliver a stronger Mid West region and fulfil our national aspiration to rebalance growth away from Dublin, as laid out in the national planning framework.”
He said that he does not believe that developing private hospitals in Cork and Galway will meet Limerick’s needs.
“It is not acceptable that the St John’s project is not being actively considered at this time,” he said.
Minister Butler said that no capital submission for the development at St John’s Hospital has been received.
“I will certainly bring the Deputy’s concerns to the Minister for Health,” she said.