LIMERICK City Council has initiated proceedings against a number of young men in relation to the illegal spraying of graffiti on a number of buildings and shop fronts in the city centre.
Five young men, who all have addresses in Limerick, were this week issued with on-the-spot fines by registered post.
The Limerick Leader understands that a number of those who have been issued with fines are students.
The €150 fines, which were issued under the provisions of the Litter Pollution Act must be paid within 28 days.
A spokesperson for Limerick City Council’s environment department said the on-the-spot fines relate to 18 specific offences which are alleged to have occurred in recent months at “private sites and public realm areas” in the city.
The spokesperson confirmed if the fines are not paid, the individuals concerned will be prosecuted in the district court where, if convicted, they can be jailed for six months or fined up to €3,000.
The proceedings against the five youths were initiated following an investigation which involved environmental inspectors from Limerick City Council who were assisted by gardai.
“It is difficult to trace those responsible but graffiti is illegal and we will continue our investigations,” said a spokesperson for Limerick City Council who added that proceedings may be initiated against other individuals in the future.
While this week’s proceedings are a significant development in combatting the recent upsurge in graffiti in the city centre, it is not the first action taken by Limerick City Council.
Last month, a young woman from County Clare and a youth from Limerick city were fined at Limerick Court after they were successfully prosecuted for spraying graffiti at the Canal Bank earlier this year.
In addition to being fined, the pair were ordered by Judge Eugene O’Kelly to pay the costs of the local authority.
Meanwhile, in August, two young men who were caught spraying graffiti on a road sign on the outskirts of the city were ordered by gardai to clean-up the sign as part of a restorative justice programme.
Limerick City Council and the gardai have come under pressure in recent weeks to clamp down on illegal graffiti in the city centre.
Six weeks ago, the Limerick Leader published photographs of graffiti and so called “tagging’ which had been sprayed on the security shutters of a large number of shops and other business premises in the city centre under the cover of darkness.
At the time, several business owners spoke of their anger and frustration at the practice.
“It’s just ridiculous at this stage and very annoying. It looks very bad. We’re in business here 30 years and we’ve never had this kind of problem before,” said Mansoor Khalid who owns three stores on William Street.
Caroline Curley, director of service at Limerick City Council has confirmed that the local authority is examining the possibility of creating “street art boards” at locations in the city centre in an effort to facilitate those who wish to engage in graffiti art.
However she says that those currently engaging in the practice are “knowingly vandalising other people’s property”.