Hostel for ex-servicemen in Limerick prepares to close

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

EX-servicemen in Limerick who served in peacekeeping missions around the globe will be without a home of their own from this Friday, as they are up to €20,000 in arrears in their rent.

EX-servicemen in Limerick who served in peacekeeping missions around the globe will be without a home of their own from this Friday, as they are up to €20,000 in arrears in their rent.

The 11-bed centre at numbers 6, 7 and 8 James’ Street in the city is home to just three former Army men, who say they have no family to turn to to help them find a new abode.

One of the men who will have to move, if the monies are not paid, has Alzheimer’s disease and they are trying to find suitable alternative accommodation for him.

It previously housed 11 ex-servicemen, but after they moved into other accommodation the centre was left with an increasing shortfall in funds to pay the rent.

Leonard Hawkins, chairman of the O.N.E Patrick Sarsfield branch, who oversees the running of the centre, explained that their five-year lease on the building has expired.

The centre is not run by the O.N.E. (Organisation of National Ex-servicemen), however, though they operate other such hostels around the country.

Mr Hawkins said the owner was left with no option but to ask them to leave and find new tenants to fill the properties, which are nestled off Pery Square. “The owner would like us to stay, but we’re already six months behind on our rent. The tenants will have to find their own place, but I hope to be able to help them,” said Mr Hawkins, who gave 22 years of service to the army, particularly in Cyprus, the Lebanon and Northern Ireland.

Resident Terence Halvey, 59, said: “There is nowhere else for us to go. I was born around here and I’m here nearly four years. I was very happy when I got this place, even though you’ve only one room and the rest is communal. It’s a fine house.”

Joe O’Mahony, president of the O.N.E. Patrick Sarsfield branch, said: “It will be sad to see it [the centre] go. There have been meetings with the council about this, but it fell through. The members will be very disappointed.”

Independent councillor John Gilligan said the anticipated closure is “very, very disappointing.”

“These are men who served our country and our country has an obligation to them,” he told the Limerick Leader. He said the centre was initially opened with some funds from the Department of Housing, but further funds for this type of accommodation has not been forthcoming.