Leddin hopes his rail vision is not too far down the tracks

Green Party TD Brian Leddin plans to make Limerick a health and happy place for all. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

GREEN Party TD Brian Leddin vows to have a transformative impact on the environment and economy of Limerick if elected into mayoral office this June 7. The sitting Limerick TD is excited about the county’s future and believes it has great untapped potential. In short, he wants to re-establish Limerick’s place on the map.

When the Limerick Post met Deputy Leddin on the campaign trail, he spoke about how he is working towards developing the city so that it becomes a healthy and happy place for all who live in it.

Deputy Leddin says that he believes in the new mayoral role, having played a part himself in pushing for the historic legislation to go through. He see’s the historic first mayoral position as an opportunity for Limerick and the region to realise its full potential. This, he points out, is why he was first out of the traps to put his name forward as a candidate last December.

An engineer by training and the Green Party spokesperson for Transport, Climate Action, and Environment, Deputy Leddin was elected to Dáil Éireann in February 2020 and became the first Green Party TD to represent Limerick City.

Brian chairs the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action, and, prior to his election to the Dáil, he was a Green Party councillor representing Limerick North City on Limerick City and County Council.

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Alan Jacques speaking to Brian Leddin TD on his Mayoral Campaign. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

‘A counterweight to Dublin’

As we make our way down along Mary Street, he reveals that he has been pursuing a particular vision for the Mid West since entering politics.

He sees “Limerick and the Mid West becoming a counterweight to Dublin in the East”.

“It will take decades but we have to plan for that. We have to have that kind of ambition in our minds, and that’s what I have been pursuing. I’ve done a lot already to get us moving in that direction and I see this office as an opportunity to accelerate that work.”

I ask him to outline his vision for a Limerick of the future.

“It’s about what you need to do for the Mid West to be positioned as a counterweight, and it does come down to infrastructure,” he says.

“I would, as mayor, be strongly advocating for particular infrastructure, and that would be a rail link to Shannon Airport. My power to deliver that would be in my role as an advocate for the Mid West.”

According to Deputy Leddin, he has already done a lot to make this a possibility by getting it locked into the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy and All-Island Strategic Rail Review.

A game-changer down the tracks

In terms of delivery then, he insists that it now needs the person who believes it is the right kind of infrastructure to be in the mayoral office “fighting for it”.

“In addition to that then is the delivery of a Metropolitan Rail Network. I think that is very doable now, and is largely doable because of the work this government has done.

“I’m talking about new train stations – two of them are in planning already – in Moyross and Ballysimon, but there’s potential for stations at Corbally, Parkway, Ballysimon, Annacotty, Mungret, Dooradoyle, Raheen, Patrickswell, and Adare.”

It all sounds very exciting and a game-changer for Limerick, but will those of my vintage ever see it come to fruition?

“We will if we elected me as mayor,” he replies with a chuckle.

Brian Leddin TD on the mayoral campaign trail. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

“We can do the Shannon link in five years, according to the chief executive of Irish Rail. We can do an awful lot. Moyross will open in 2026, that’s two years away, and that’s in planning. Ballysimon could be 2026, and Raheen can be done very, very quickly. It is exciting and it is about the political will. It’s about advocating for it. It’s about understanding the vision.”

Brian says the new mayor “will have that power to stand up to the Minister of Transport of the day, whoever that is, and say ‘this is what we need for our county and our region’.”

Limerick’s first directly-elected mayor (DEM) needs to be someone with a track record to deliver on a big vision for the city and county, the Green Party hopeful insists. And he claims to know the right man for the job.

“I’ve delivered the Limerick to Foynes railway. There are people who believed it could never happen. They were stunned that now it’s happening and it’s happening as quickly as it is. That’s a €200million piece of infrastructure that is going to really have a positive effect in our region.”

This, he continues, is only part of a much bigger vision which he firmly believes is realistic.

Alan Jacques speaking to Brian Leddin TD on his mayoral campaign. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

UHL an unrealistic promise

Deputy Leddin, if elected, aims to plan for and deliver new housing across city and county, exceeding Government targets. He also plans to make towns and streets attractive places to live, shop, and visit by tackling vacancy and dereliction, anti-social behaviour, and by investing in maintenance and public realm.

He raised concerns during our interview about some candidates making promises that he doesn’t believe they can deliver on.

“If you think of the politics of the day, and it is something that is really pertinent to Limerick, is the challenge in UHL (University Hospital Limerick). The mayor will have no direct power to fix that,” he says.

“At best, they will have influence over the Minister for Health or the government of the day. There’s something in that, but the hospital isn’t coming under the jurisdiction of the council.”

As he poses for photos along the banks of the River Shannon, a popular spot with our DEM hopefuls, Brian enthuses about the opportunity at hand to set Limerick up for future years.

“This is an opportunity in Limerick to set ourselves up as a growing, thriving, prosperous city region – a European city region, not just an Irish one. We can be a really vibrant and successful part of Ireland and part of Europe but I think the mayor’s office is a fantastic opportunity to fight for that, to advocate for that within Ireland and within Europe.

“I think if we elect the right person who has the right vision, who understands what infrastructure is needed, that future is a realistic one.”