Moyross wants structure to be removed as gesture towards brighter future
In a city famed for its bridges, Limerick instead finds itself making headlines over a controversial wall dividing a community.
Limerick is at the centre of a campaign to have a three-metre-high wall in the suburb of Moyross torn down amid claims it represents an anachronistic 21st-century 'Berlin Wall' and is a clear psychological brake on local development efforts.
Locals argued the wall effectively cuts off and isolates a suburb that has been at the centre of the Limerick urban regeneration campaign for more than two decades.
Once plagued by social disadvantage, unemployment and crime, Moyross has been making heroic efforts to build a better future for its community and local families.
However, residents believe the dividing structure speaks volumes as to the old mindset towards the local community.
The three-metre wall extends for 3km and separates two housing estates – effectively cutting off Moyross from both Thomond College and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT).
Councillor James Collins said the wall reflected the social infrastructure mistakes of the past that marred many urban communities in Limerick, Dublin and Cork.
"Putting up the wall years ago didn't solve any problems in the way some people hoped. I believe that tearing down the wall won't solve problems either unless we commit resources to delivering complex solutions to complex issues," he said.
"Moyross has a lot of wonderful people. They need to be supported in their work to help develop the local community for the good of not just Moyross but the wider Limerick community."
Limerick Mental Health Association (LMHA) manager Tracey Corbett-Lynch said it was important for locals to see bridges being built between communities rather than walls and divisions.
"It is so important for everyone to feel empowered in a community – that everyone matters, everyone's voice is important and that the development of the entire community should involve all residents," she said.
"There is an old adage that a rising tide lifts all ships. But not if we have things which leave our community feeling divided or separate – even if they are legacies from the past."
She said remarkable progress had been achieved with urban regeneration and tackling social disadvantage in Limerick. However, much more needs to be done to address social disadvantage within Limerick.
Land Development Agency (LDA) chairman John Moran is concerned at the impact the wall is having. Mr Moran told The Limerick Leader that community concerns needed to be carefully listened to.
“In Ireland we should not build walls between communities, we should take them down,” he said.
For many in Limerick, urban regeneration is more about tackling poverty, promoting social inclusion, enhancing education opportunities and creating jobs than demolishing old buildings.
Significantly expanded as a suburb of Limerick in the 1970s, Moyross originally suffered from being in two different electoral areas. It was crippled in the 1980s and 1990s by job losses, poverty and the resultant anti-social behaviour. In the late 1980s, Moyross had an unemployment figure of 84pc spread across its 1,300 homes – one of the worst in Ireland.
By the middle of the last decade, depopulation had also become a serious problem. The population of Moyross plummeted from 5,022 in 2006 to just 1,963 in 2016 – a decline of over 3,000.
However, the ambitious Limerick urban regeneration programme tried to mark a turning point.
Moyross Community Hub, Moyross Enterprise and The Bays training facility proved so successful they were listed for a national award two years ago.
Local investment and regeneration has been aided by Limerick businessman and philanthropist JP McManus as well as local heroes, rugby star Keith Earls and The Cranberries guitarist Noel Hogan.