A GRANDMOTHER and her daughter, who has a child with special needs, say they were forced out of their County Limerick homes by a baying mob armed with hammers, golf clubs and hurleys.
Josephine McGrath, aged 60, has been sleeping on a couch in her son’s crowded house in Nicker since she had to leave her council house at 5 Hillview Drive, Kilteely on Sunday night. On Monday evening, Josephine’s daughter Debbie, aged 33, and her 13-year-old son Jack, who was born with hydrocephalus known as water on the brain, also left. Debbie lives around the corner from her mum.
At 10.40pm on Sunday, Josephine, who lives on her own, was watching TV.
“I was supposed to go to bingo. I go every Friday and Sunday night but I got a bad, gut feeling that something was going to happen so I didn’t go.
“I had a cup of tea in my hand and then, Oh Jesus, my side window came in. It was a rock. I was petrified. I went out the front and a man was coming up with two hammers in his hands. He massacred the fence I have for the child. Then he told me, ‘You f***ing c***, you’re dead, you’re dead’.
“Then he threw a hammer at me. It barely missed. I ran in the door. He ran into the next door neighbours and started kicking and kicking the fence. I locked my door and put my leg up to it, my leg is all hurt now - I have brittle bones.
“I have a skinny little press in the front porch and I put it down flat so it was against the door and the wall. A woman had one of the timbers off the fence and she was bating the sitting room window saying, ‘Come out you b***h, you’re dead, your whole family is dead, we’ll get ye all’. They were at me for about 20 minutes - shouting, roaring and kicking my door. I locked myself in the bathroom and stayed on the phone to the guards,” said Josephine, who went to her son’s house when they came. A tearful Josephine said on Tuesday she hasn’t eaten since.
On Monday evening, upto 20 men and women gathered around Debbie’s house armed with golf clubs, hurleys and slash hooks, she said.
“It was like the mafia. They said, ‘You’re lucky the child is in there or we would have drove in all the windows on top of you’,” said Josephine, who is very upset about how the move has affected her grandson.
“Jack is autistic and gets seizures. He misses his routine. He can’t talk but when he wants to go home he gives me my handbag. He keeps doing it but we can’t go home. If I go back there, we’ll get shot.”
Josephine says the intimidation started after she complained to gardai about a person in the estate “terrorising Debbie”.
“You don’t bring the guards to them,” said Josephine, who says those that are intimidating them are in the minority.
“I’m living there 34 years and never had any problems before. Everyone bar them has respect for us, they have apologised to us but still they won’t talk to the guards because if they do, they will be next.”
A garda spokesperson confirmed they attended the scene and received a complaint of damage caused to property.
“Gardai are following up on the complaint and investigating it. We urge anybody with any information to contact us in Bruff or on the garda confidential line on 1800666111,” they said. Deputy Niall Collins met with the family on Monday evening.
“Any form of intimidation is completely unacceptable. I am calling on the people who are intimidating anyone in our community to cease. There is an obligation on the council to ensure that any of their tenants who are engaging in anti-social behaviour or intimidation are properly investigated and it doesn’t occur again.
“I have been in contact with senior gardai in Bruff and asked them to assist the victims and increase patrols. I have been in touch with the housing section and they are aware of it,” said Mr Collins. Others in the broader community have contacted him to express concerns too. Josephine says there are two barred up houses in The Grove in Pallasgreen where they could go. A spokesperson for the homelessness unit, involving the council, HSE and Department of Social Protection, said they are happy to engage with any individual that is homeless or at risk.”