Limerick politicians at war over Ballynanty Youth Club

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

NORTHSIDE Labour councillor Tom Shortt has lashed out at Willie O’Dea - and said he can get your window fixed, but not help people with social problems.

NORTHSIDE Labour councillor Tom Shortt has lashed out at Willie O’Dea - and said he can get your window fixed, but not help people with social problems.

Cllr Shortt is fuming after Mr O’Dea indicated his support for residents in Ballynanty who are opposed to the construction of a €2m youth centre in the shadow of Thomond Park.

He described it as “shocking” that Mr O’Dea is willing to argue to “turn away a €2m investment” in a disadvantaged area.

And Cllr Shortt says during his time in government, Mr O’Dea helped create an unemployment blackspot in Ballynanty, which has close to 50% of people out of work.

A residents opposition committee is opposed to Limerick Youth Service’s plans to build in Ballynanty, arguing that there are more suitable sites elsewhere.

They are worried at the loss of green space, an increase in anti-social behaviour, and a drop in value of their homes.

And after Mr O’Dea called for community facilities to be redirected to the east of the city, Cllr Shortt said: “I heard a mother in Ballynanty say that Deputy O’Dea will show great interest in getting a door or a window fixed but he had little to offer when you asked him where you would get help for a son or a daughter addicted to drugs. Parents with teenagers will disagree with Deputy O’Dea that there are adequate services in the area as they find that there are very limited facilities, places to go and things to do for that particular vulnerable teenage age group.”

The Labour councillor is the only member of Limerick City Council to openly support the youth service’s scheme.

“Parents feel let down by public representatives like Willie O’Dea and especially Maurice Quinlivan who was born in the area siding with an unrepresentative pressure group and the vested interests who want to stop the building of a badly needed youth centre in the area,” he said, “It is the role of public representatives to dispel the fear being generated, particularly about the safety of older people. Some theories advanced by those opposing the centre need to be challenged: it is ridiculous to suggest that a Youth Centre would increase anti social behaviour in the area when all the evidence has established that this kind of facility actually reduces levels of anti social 
behaviour”

He added staff at St Munchin’s Community Centre “need to be reassured” funding of the youth centre is separate from their funding and comes from different sources entirely and will not affect their jobs.