The date on the note
was obviously wrong, a 'type-o' perhaps. The statement that
"Following consultation and requests to have the boarded
up houses demolished" was also wrong. There had indeed
been requests to knock derelict houses, but there had
also been requests to open vacant houses by the Moyross Residents'
Alliance (MRA), and more specifically, to open houses number
52, 53 and 54 "in consultation and with the consent
The note was signed
on behalf of the Moyross Residents' Forum Ltd (??), by Tracy
McElligott, who is not a resident of Moyross. Ms. McElligott
is however, a state-paid 'Community Worker'.
with the residents
Some weeks previous
a meeting of the Moyross Residents Forum was held for the residents
of Delemege Park to discuss derelict houses that were a source
for anti-social behaviour in the area. I attended this meeting
on the invitation of the MRA. It was a surreal experience, to
say the least.
There was an objection
to my presence by Chris Duhig, chairman of the residents forum
for Delmege Park. However, others at the meeting said they wanted
me to stay and questioned Mr. Duhig's position, asking who had
voted for him to chair anything. A show of hands was called
for and six people out of the 50+ in attendance indicated that
they had elected Mr. Duhig.
The forums were set
up and are controlled by the regeneration agencies and are little
more than a means of claiming that everything is done in consultation
with residents', regardless of how unrepresentative these forums
actually are. For the sake of calm I agreed not to contribute
to the meeting and remain silent. At the time I was unaware
of the true purpose of the meeting.
The meeting itself
was 'independently' chaired by Tony Lynch, chairman of the Castle
Park residents' forum, but Tracey McElligott did most of the
talking and skillfully tricked residents' into agreeing to knock
"boarded up" houses in Delemege Park, a description
that applies equally to both derelict and vacant houses. People
at the meeting wanted a particular row of derelict houses at
the entrance to Delemege Park demolished and readily agreed.
Tommy Daly attempted
to present the MRA petition, (signed by the vast majority of
residents' in Delemege Park) to open vacant houses, but Tracey
McElligott refused to accept it or record its existence.
In 2008, the MRA
provided Limerick City Council (LCC) and the Northside Regeneration
Agency (NRA) with a list of Council Tenants in Moyross that
were living next to derelict houses and who were willing to
move into these vacant houses. This would have allowed LCC to
knock whole blocks, which is considerably cheaper. To knock
a derelict house that is connected to an occupied home costs
€35,000 per house. But to knock a row of derelict/vacant
houses costs €15,000 per house.
Numbers 52, 53 and
54 Delemege Park were in the middle of a terrace of five and
were not derelict. Numbers 51 and 55 are homes to Council Tenants
Frankie Ryan and Sandra O'Donoghue. They were also in the same
square where Tommy Daly, Chairman of the MRA, lives.
"When I asked
if the residents living at each end of the terrace had been
consulted I was told they don't matter, they're only tenants"
said Mr. Daly
year, the MRA provided Limerick City Council and the Northside
Regeneration Agency with a list of Moyross tenants who are willing
to relocate to these houses. These people are living next to
actual derelict houses and are enduring ongoing acts of anti-social
behaviour," said Mr. Daly "Our depopulation / repopulation
proposal could save the taxpayer millions of Euro, but the Northside
Regeneration Agency won't even acknowledge our existence",
not even Tommy Daly, expected that the boarded up vacant houses
in Friars Square would be targeted for demolition, especially
as the MRA had organised a clean-up of the houses the week before.
I was shocked when Tommy contacted me and informed me that by
chance he meet an LCC engineer who told him that they were going
to knock the houses. Tommy issued a press release:
these houses is an attempt to run down our area and demoralise
the people living here. We are in the middle of a Community
clean up to make our area look normal. We're sick of 'poverty
tourists' coming in here and taking photos of the monk's graffiti.
The place looked a holy show, so decided to organise a clean
up and paint in windows and doors. We were only informed about
the demolition on Monday; when an engineer came down to examine
the houses. This will make the place look worse than ever and
leave residents vulnerable to anti-social behaviour," said
aren't they targeting derelict houses for demolition? Why target
these perfectly good houses when people are willing to live
in them? We were told we could wait while our new houses were
being built before any demolition would take place, that they
would only knock derelict houses. It should be obvious to everyone
that regeneration is nothing to do with people or Communities;
it's all about land grabbing," said Mr. Daly. "They
want to run the place down to run us out" he added.
Daly said that the majority of residents in Friars Square
are opposed to the demolition and will take a class action
against Limerick City Council and the Northside Regeneration
Agency should they proceed.
of our residents is elderly and has a heart condition and is
stressed out about the whole affair, no one from the Agency
or the Council bothered to consult with him because he is a
tenant. People are worried that houses will be knocked and the
Agency will walk away with nothing built. I hope common sense
prevails and people are put before profit. Our Community has
suffered a lot and survived two murders in the same square.
Now the Agency is trying to finish us of. As far as I'm concerned,
they're the biggest gang of all," he concluded.
was referring to the murder of Frankie Ryan Jnr. and the more
recent murder of Darren Bennett, whose parents live at either
end of the vacant houses targeted for demolition.
to stop the demolition
I contacted a solicitor,
who met with me and Tommy on Wednesday 17th June. During our
meeting we got word that the note was being delivered. The solicitor
wrote a letter, threatening legal action if the houses were
demolished, which we would hand deliver to LCC Director of Housing,
Kieran Lehane, and to Regeneration CEO, Brendan Kenny.
Neither the MRA or
Limerick Regeneration Watch had the funding to persue any such
legal action, but we hoped that the threat of legal action would
Our first port of
call was Kieran Lehane in City Hall. His secretary claimed that
he was in a meeting, but we suspected otherwise. Entering through
the staff door, we found Mr. Lehane sitting at his desk. He
claimed to have no knowledge of which houses were being knocked
in Delemege Park, but said that residents' had agreed to such
demolition's at a recent meeting. We delivered the solicitor's
We didn't manage
to track down Mr. Kenny, but we did speak to him on the phone.
He claimed not to have any power to stop demolition's and also
said that the residents' had agreed to it. I asked him when
residents' could expect their new homes to be built he told
me that there would be no houses built in Delemege Park, that
it was going to be a commercial area.
I didn't get to deliver
the solicitor's letter to Mr. Kenny until the following day
and by then it was too late. I had a brief conversation with
Mr. Kenny during which he implied that Tommy Daly had a hand
in breaking the window of a resident who supported the demolition.
When questioned further he said that the resident seemed to
Tommy Daly has personally
intervened and prevented youths from breaking the windows of
his neighbours on numerous occasions. As it turned out, the
resident referred to by Mr. Kenny contacted Tommy to say that
he had never made such a statement and that he in fact knew
the youth that had broken his window; he had hoped that the
regeneration agency could help him replace the window. Several
more windows were to be broken that day, but not because of
On Thursday. 18th
June 2009, at 5am the trucks rolled in with a Garda escort fit
for the president. Parked cars were removed without informing
the owners. Residents' were woken from their beds.
First the boundary
walls, fences and gates were knocked. Then the boarding was
removed to reveal perfectly good double-glazed windows and doors,
which were later ripped out and smashed by the mechanical arm
of a digger.
As I've said already,
numbers 52, 53 and 54 Delemege Park were in the middle of a
terrace of five and were not derelict. Numbers 51 and 55 are
homes to Council Tenants Frankie Ryan and Sandra O'Donoghue.
Both are the parents of murdered children.
During the demolition,
the TV cable was cut. When Sandra O'Donoghue enquired of one
of the demolition crew if it would restored when they were finished,
she was told "fuck off or you'll be arrested". She
was visibly upset and began to cry. She had hoped that if the
houses were opened that her late son might get one.
At the other end
of the terrace, Frankie Ryan remained in doors until it was
safe to come out. When he did he was almost hit by a 'safety'
fence that was knocked over by a digger removing rubble.
In any other European
country, these tenants would have been put up in a hotel until
the work was over. But seemingly in Ireland its okay to treat
people from regeneration areas differently.
Given the current
economic climate, the demolition of these houses was little
more than an act of State sponsored vandalism.
But the story doesn't
end there. The MRA, with help from the Franciscan Friars of
the Renewal, have transformed the area where the houses once
stood into a memorial park. The work is on-going and should
be finished by summer 2010.
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