THE APPROACH of charity collectors to shoppers on the streets of Limerick city “borders on physical assault”, Labour councillor Tom Shortt has said.
Speaking at a joint policing meeting in City Hall, numerous councillors raised complaints about the conduct of volunteers collecting for charitable organisations, saying it has become a deterrent for some people coming into the city to shop.
Cllr Shortt said some of these collectors for international charities are using “unreputable tactics” and “going beyond boundaries that are acceptable” to elicit money from the public.
“We all like to support charities, but there are too many interest groups competing in the city. I have had complaints from people saying they feel seriously intimidated by them, and that they’re almost put off by going in to the city centre. Some of these are very prominent charities, but they need to look at the ethics of their approach,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan, the head of the Limerick garda division, said retailers have made complaints to the gardai about people begging at ATM machines, and outside their stores, as well as ‘chuggers’ - charity collectors.
The Chief Supt said he has “put a stop to people collecting in the middle of road” collecting funds from passing motorists, by warning them that their permits to collect donations would not be re-issued. This has been successful, he said, but other groups have their permit issued by the courts, “which allows them to collect anywhere in Ireland”.
The area around Bedford Row/Thomas Street was highlighted as a particular concern. The Chief Supt said they took a case against one charitable group to court.