THE CHIEF executive of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies has said that the money used to purchase Steve Collins’ pub did not come from the main regeneration budget and that the premises was earmarked among a list of “strategic sites in the city” they wished to purchase since last year.
Mr Collins and his family left the country at the weekend due to ongoing threats and intimidation following the murder of his son Roy, 34, three years ago.
Brendan Kenny, CEO of the regeneration agencies, confirmed that in the region of €500,000 was used to purchase the Steering Wheel pub and the neighbouring casino, where Roy was shot in April 2009. Mr Kenny said the money spent on the purchase of the pub “won’t damage the work that we’re doing” and wished to reassure residents in the regeneration agencies that “this hasn’t come out of the main regeneration budget.”
When it was put to him that some locals believed the money should have come from the Criminal Assets Bureau and not regeneration funding, he said: “I wouldn’t argue against that at all. I understand people’s views. We’ve been very protective of the regeneration budget over the past few years.”
He said the transaction was only finalised in recent weeks, and said the property could prove advantageous to the regeneration of the city, as he hopes the Roxboro shopping centre will be “totally redeveloped in the years ahead”.
He said the regeneration agencies have not purchased Brannigan’s pub on Mulgrave Street.
Gardai in Limerick said the cost of protecting a number of members of the Collins family on a 24-hour basis, 365 days a year, amounted to at least a six-figure sum per annum of State resources. Six gardai a day - based on three shifts of two gardai - have to provide protection to any one person under threat at a time.
However, it is understood that a number of relatives of the Collins family are still receiving garda protection here.
Up to 50 gardai in Limerick have been assigned to protection duties per day. Gardai said “huge resources” are required to protect any individuals under threat, and the departure of some members of the Collins family “will relieve some pressure” on reduced resources.