GANGS of up to 40 teenagers are marauding through estates at night in Monaleen and Castletroy and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
One man who is fed up with the anti-social behaviour spoke to the Limerick Leader after it reached a new level on Friday night.
“They are all between 14 and 16 and have been drinking since 7 or 8pm. They set fire to bins in Hazel Hall, The Fairways, smashed a panel on the front door of a house in Beechfield, and destroyed a garden by picking up and throwing flower pots.
“Some young girls were walking home and they got pelted by eggs. It is unbelievable,” said the resident, who adds that the majority of the teens are from the locality.
They say they meet in the vicinity of Monaleen GAA Club, ironically where other youngsters are honing their GAA skills, and the Castletroy park.
“They mainly move between these locations and come down through a couple of estates as short-cuts. When you have 30 or 40 kids going around in packs it just takes one or two eejits to set it all off. Last week they were all drinking and that set them off. If you’re walking on your own it’s hugely intimidating to be passed by a gang of 30 or 40 in a group. It takes only one to make a comment,” they said.
In the last couple of years problems with teenagers hanging around in gangs and drinking has escalated, they say.
“Last Friday was the worst in a long time and we know what coming in two weeks with Halloween. Kids will be dropped from all around town and from the countryside to go trick or treating and roam around in large numbers. All our trees in the neighbourhood were knocked down last year by them,” said the resident, who says the teenagers parents have a lot to answer for.
“It’s mainly local kids, I’d know them to see them. You’d know them all from the neighbourhood but you can’t say ‘I saw you doing something’ when all you saw was them leaving after an incident.
“I took a stroll about 10.30pm last Friday and it had gone quiet. Obviously they were under instruction to go home. You call to Johnny’s house and say Johnny was out breaking flower pots and burning bins and the parents will be in denial.
“Most of the parents wouldn’t believe their children are involved in those kind of things and just leave them off. They don’t know where they are and assume they are all angels. We have the biggest teenage population in Limerick and a population the size of Nenagh and there is no garda station.”
Gardai in Henry Street confirmed they do get quite a number of phone calls regarding anti-social behaviour in the Monaleen and Castletroy areas.
“We were all told how wonderful the park was going to but it has become a bloody nightmare as it is unsupervised at night and is the central location for meeting up,” said the resident.
Local councillor, Mary Jackman, said she has had complaints about anti-social behaviour and she sees the results for herself most mornings in Castletroy Park.
“There are so many beer cans on the ground, there is graffiti and the bandstand has been damaged in the past. The playground is for children and is not constructed for teenagers swinging,” said Cllr Mary Jackman, who believes that a youth club could the answer.
“In the context of an ever expanding youth population what that age-group needs to socialise is a youth club. It has been mooted many times before and I know we are in a recession but I think now is the time to sow the seeds of development. There would be a tremendous community response,” said Cllr Jackman.
This week, a reader wrote to the Leader about the same situation in a housing estate in West Limerick, saying: “My heart goes out to the elderly and the housebound, who have no option but to shut up, put and stay indoors.”