Irish Independent - Saturday, January 12, 2008
revamp is Irish-style ethnic cleansing, says priest
By Barry Duggan
A priest has accused
a city council of Irish-style ethnic cleansing in its attempts
to regenerate one of the country's most rundown suburbs.
Fr Joe Young, who
served in Southill in Limerick for 25 years, said the local
authority was displacing whole generations away from their home
neighbourhood as part of plans to clean up socially deprived
areas in the city.
being protected in their homes as promised, people are fleeing
intimidation and anarchy," he said.
Fr Young, along with
Limerick city southside community activist, Cathal McCarthy,
said Limerick City Council has spent millions "facilitating
this exodus, acquiring peoples' homes for as little as €20,000
in exchange for rented accommodation elsewhere in the city.
"We view this
policy as exploiting the criminal and anti-social behaviour
that exists to pave the way for developers, by clearing the
land of as many people as possible -- ethnic cleansing, Irish
style. Most of these people are law-abiding and elderly, and
had finished paying their mortgages," Fr Young said.
Agencies are overseeing the redevelopment of the Southill, Moyross,
St Mary's Park and Ballinacurra-Weston areas of Limerick as
recommended by the Fitzgerald report which was published last
In 2007, Limerick
City Council purchased more than 150 houses across the city
to ease the pressure on their housing list.
Mr McCarthy, who
ran as an unsuccessful independent candidate in last year's
general elections in the Limerick East constituency, said families
who have taken the council offer should be contacted by the
Regeneration Agencies and offered a house in the newly regenerated
"If they used
to be homeowners then they should return as homeowners. If they
do not wish to return, then a house in the regenerated area
should be sold on their behalf so that they can purchase the
house they now have to rent," Mr McCarthy said.
Speaking of his former
parishioners in Southill, Fr Young said he was receiving numerous
calls from the area regarding ongoing lawlessness.
or failure of regeneration hinges primarily on implementing
the Fitzgerald report recommendations on community policing,"
Fr Young continued.
"New garda stations
are years away and what is needed now is a highly visible garda
presence at all times in these estates in order to restore confidence
and stability in the communities. Indeed, such a presence is
also needed in, and recommended for, our other troubled estates,"
Fr Young said.
endured by these estates are not exclusive to Limerick. Fortunately,
the Fitzgerald report gives Limerick a unique opportunity to
revolutionise community policing that could be implemented in
other troubled estates and areas across the country. This is
an opportunity that must not be squandered," Fr Young said.
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