Grandmothers despair at being forced from Southill

And she estimates hers is one of around 20 to 30 established Southill families to have suffered this fate over the past three years.

Criminals have targeted homeowners by making offers of as little as €20,000 for the keys of the house. If residents don’t accept, they can expect to have their properties attacked, their families threatened, intimidated and assaulted. Other families have sold their homes back to the Council for similar derisory sums while others still, like J., simply handed the keys back to City Hall, “because my life was just worth too much”.

J. says she hasn’t received a penny in compensation for the house she bought from Limerick City Council in the 1980s; the how she invested in over many years by adding fitted kitchens and bathrooms, double glazing and so on; the house raise three children in it, all college educated.

Now that home has been knocked as part of the regeneration process but nobody told J. She was in the city centre property she rents when she saw it being torn down on the evening news.

“That broke my heart to see that. I never wanted to leave O’Malley Park; I never wanted to leave the house I read my family in. But in the end I had to walk away. I’m only one of many. Most of my friends are gone from there, scattered all over the place. We still meet up in town the whole time. There were friendships will that were built up over many years in Southill, strong friendships. You always had the best of people here but they are gone after it started,” said J.

“We always had a problem with stolen cars but all of a sudden a few years ago it really started to get out of control at my end,” J. says.

In a letter to Limerick Leader, J. describes how the situation started to escalate:

“But gradually our lives changed, with a growing level of violence. Stolen cars and the shattering of windows became the order of the day. But worse, certain families were targeted, for no apparent reason, and a face a routine of horror, bricks through the window, cars reversing into your front garden wall and constant verbal abuse.

“Little did I think that it would come to us. We had the mid-terrace house; the house on one side was vacant. The house was broken into on one Easter Sunday and thrashed; it was used for drug parties with fires being late and all kinds of behavior taking place. Are neighbor on the other side was attacked during Halloween of the same year, she had bangers through her letterbox and all her new specially reinforced windows broken.

“After decades together, my neighbor left. Now our house stood alone between two derelict houses, one of which was put on fire, threatening our own.

Then came the physical violence. J.’s husband was pelted with stones, J. herself knocked to the ground and kicked when she was coming back from the shops.

“I was hurt but it was the laugh of the children that make me most,” she says.

The intimidation of residents in the O’Malley Park/Keyes Park area has been described by John Fitzgerald, author of the report that led to the establishment of Limerick Regeneration, as “like ethnic cleansing without the ethnicity”.

Southill parish priests FR Pat Hogan, on behalf of the parish Council and, last week accused Limerick City Council tenants who they had failed to control. They still live in Southill while older families have sold up for as little as €25,000, or, in some cases, nothing at all.

Limerick City Council replied that it had in the past two years resolved 442 antisocial behavior cases concerning its tenants, with over 40 properties repossessed or surrendered.

Laborers Cllr Joe Leddin said Limerick City Council can’t ignore the provision of basic services in Southill while the community awaits the publication of the regeneration plans.

“Residents who have lived in the states all their lives are now living side derelict houses, rubbish dumps and daily incidences of antisocial behavior. Basic services such as street cleaning, Gully cleaning, have all but stopped and it is totally unacceptable for residents to have to live in these conditions while the promise of regeneration is in effect years away.

“The focus of attention seems to have permanently shifted towards publishing the regeneration plans, instead of similar effort being placed on stabilizing these communities,” Cllr Leddin said.

” It’s hard to disagree with FR Hogan when he expressed his views in writing recently to City Hall regarding the problems local residents are experiencing.

“I am now calling on the city manager to personally intervene and put in place a plan to deal with the day to day problems in these estates while we all wait for the implementation of the regeneration master plans.” Concluded the councilor.


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