Councillors divided on Limerick Youth Service plan

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

A WAR of words has broken out at City Hall over the proposed youth centre in Ballynanty.

A WAR of words has broken out at City Hall over the proposed youth centre in Ballynanty.

Thanks to funding from JP McManus, the Limerick Youth Service wants to build a new centre on lands adjacent to Thomond Park.

The application has divided councillors and residents alike.

At the council meeting, northside Fine Gael councillor and chairman of the joint policing committee Michael Hourigan voiced opposition to the location, saying the majority of the residents felt the same way.

But Labour councillor Tom Shortt said he has met many residents who are in favour. And he said he “finds it hard to listen” to the chairman of the joint policing committee opposing a scheme which would include facilities to help troubled youngsters.

Councillors Cormac Hurley and Orla McLoughlin also waded into the argument.

Addressing councillors, Cllr Hourigan said: “I have no objection to the building, it is just the location of the building which upsets me. We are very limited in terms of open space.”

He said 80 per cent of the residents in the area are opposed to the scheme.

But Cllr Shortt hit back, saying: “The more I am out and about, the more I think we need these facilities. The residents who are opposed have misrepresented the situation wholesale.”

He added that if the youth service intervenes in young people’s lives, it can save the state money later on.

“I find it hard to listen to the chairman of the Joint Policing Committee be opposed to the proper resourcing of the Garda Diversion Project. It puts them on the right road now, rather then sending them to correctional centres later, and spending the state’s money doing so,” he explained.

Cllr Hurley added his voice to the opposition, saying: “I saw six young fellas playing soccer on a green area, and I wonder if they support it. I wish and hope this is built somewhere else.”

And educational professional Cllr McLoughlin said she could not support a youth centre encroaching on green space - and because they deal with specialised cases, it is not fair to expect the general public to embrace the scheme. A decision on the application has been held up, and is expected to be made in September.