VIOLENT youths, some just ten years old, are forcing the elderly out of their homes in estates across the city, it has been claimed.
And there are fears that the latest round of garda cutbacks would lead to a crimewave in the city’s regeneration estates.
Calls have been made to bring Chief Superintendent David Sheahan before Limerick City Council, after it was also alleged gardai are telling local residents complaining of anti-social behaviour to approach their local councillor instead.
At this week’s City Council housing committee meeting, a discussion was held on the regeneration process, and members were quick to raise the matter of anti-social behaviour.
Southside Fine Gael councillor Pat Kennedy feels that the agencies do not fully understand the level of problem in the estates.
“There is very serious criminal activity there. Elderly people are being forced out by a range of people, some of whom are as young as ten. I don’t think the agencies realise this,” he said.
Councillor Maurice Quinlivan backed this up, saying: “This is true in some parts of the city. We need interventions, to work with families and ensure children are going to school.”
Cllr Kennedy added that he does not think people who have left certain city estates will return unless they feel protected.
Cllr Quinlivan said he is unhappy with the way the gardai respond to some complaints after residents were told that no gardai were available to tackle a group of youths drinking.
He said residents called him after being told by gardai that there were no personnel available.
“I rang the guards myself, and the person who answered said there was one garda car and it was busy. She said there was nothing she could do,” he recalled, “It was only after I contacted a senior Garda directly that the matter was finally resolved.”
Meanwhile, southside Fine Gael councillor Jim Long has put in a notice of motion with City Council, calling for a “special urgent meeting on the issue of community safety, and anti-social behaviour in the areas of control by the local authority.”
The former mayor wants the meeting attended by senior gardai, the agencies involved in the estates, and all elected members.
He is angry after one resident alerted him to the fact she was referred to a city councillor when reporting an instance of anti-social behaviour.
“I fully appreciate the gardai are under huge pressure with criminality in these estates, but by the same token, I have experienced some constituents who have had reason to call the gardai, only to be told contact your local councillor. Jim Long does not wear a garda uniform. I do not have powers of arrest: Criminality of any description is a matter for the gardai only,” he said.
Fianna Fail councillor Kieran O’Hanlon described as “alarming” the news many front-line gardai were being asked to take a leave of absence to save money, especially since his government deployed 100 extra officers into the estates.
Rather than inviting Chief Supt Sheahan, he suggested the council make contact with Alan Shatter “and secure a commitment he will manage our estates properly”.
Limerick Trades Council president Mike McNamara also revealed at the meeting that a garda officer had told him that he could not drive to an incident because the car had already clocked up 300,000 kilometres, and was out of warranty.
“It is a terrible indictment that we cannot have these facilities for a group meant to protect the public,” he said.
Director of service Oliver O’Loughlin suggested councillors write to Mr Shatter.