UNRULY residents of county council estates have been warned that they may be hit with exclusion orders in the future, after the local authority succeeded in having three men barred from two estates in Newcastle West.
Officials with the Limerick County Council housing department have said that the barring of John Ryan, 31, Dermot Ryan, 20, and Thomas McCarthy, 29, from the Castleview and Sharwood estates was a “test case” which may be replicated in other parts of the county in future if needed.
The three-year exclusion orders, which were handed down in court in Newcastle West in December, were the first of their kind ever issued in county Limerick.
One housing official, who did not wish to be named, said that exclusion orders are now “in the armoury” and may be used again.
“It’s certainly something we will consider. There might not be any [exclusion orders] in 2012, and there’s no particular cases that spring to mind as of now. But it is in the armoury of legislation, and we’ve tested the waters with the Newcastle West case.
“The other thing about it is, if there is a problem with a tenant, there are a number of ways we can deal with it, such as evictions. But this is a different mechanism, dealing with people who aren’t actually tenants themselves.
“But hopefully it’s not something we’ll be needing to do again. We have 2,200 houses, the majority of which are occupied by law-abiding people.
“I suppose the one positive thing that’s come from all this publicity is that it sends a strong message. This is about protecting the vast majority of good tenants.”
Cllr Tomas Hannon, chairman of the council’s housing committee, said that the use of exclusion orders shows that County Hall “takes anti-social behaviour very seriously”.
“People are living in these houses, taxpayers’ property, paying rent and abiding by the law. They need to be protected.
The council don’t take these orders lightly, and judges don’t take them lightly either. But from what I gather, the residents in these estates [in Newcastle West] are very pleased that these orders have been brought in”.
The Newcastle West exclusion orders were sought by the county council following sustained anti-social behaviour and intimidation in Sharwood and Castleview.
Cllr Hannon said that while tough new measures are welcome, they need to go further. “I don’t think the legislation is strong enough. It needs to be changed badly. Colleagues of mine were recently in the US looking at social housing projects, and they have a ‘three strikes’ policy. You get three warnings, then you’re out”.