The Limerick Independent - Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Residents take their case to Brussels

Written by Rachael Finucane

A DELEGATION including residents from Weston Gardens and Moyross will address the European Parliament Petitions Committee in Brussels this Thursday to outline the illegal dumping, anti-social behaviour and intimidation blighting the areas.

The group—led by community activist and local election candidate, Cathal McCarthy—is being supported by Munster MEP, Kathy Sinnott.

Committee members visited Weston Gardens in June 2007 and Mr McCarthy will now further outline the community’s plight with a seven minutes presentation.

Mr McCarthy said that the small estate is “a microcosm for what’s happening in all the other estates”.

Other local delegates joining Mr McCarthy on the mission will include Tommy Daly, Mark Franklin from the Moyross Residents’ Alliance.

“The community is being broken up and the place is going to wrack and ruin. I have proof. Realistically, the regeneration project is based on the sale of private houses and apartments and using the money for community facilities and improvement. It needs €1.6 billion in private investment; that’s unrealistic. I think they’re hoping that the economy will eventually get back on track but we could be left stewing until then,” he said.

He added that on a visit to the Ballymun Regeneration Project last week he was “horrified” and saw new houses and shops boarded up; new apartments empty and “people feel less safe because anti-social behaviour has not been tackled”.

“I will be appealing to the committee to launch a further investigation and send a delegation here. The city council has done work in the estates recently—cleaning up green areas and baiting for vermin—and I will tell the committee, ‘That’s a positive thing you’ve done’. Europe has to see the relevance of what we’re doing to ordinary lives and in other member states.”

Mr McCarthy said that his presentation will also address a response from Irish authorities to the committee in February 2008, which he claims said that “everything was great and fine in Weston Gardens. It said that it had found someone to provide a waste service for the area but we were never informed about this”.

MEP Sinnott said that the residents came to her “because they were concerned about their neighbourhood; elderly residents were being harassed to sell their homes for next to nothing; people were being terrorised; houses were being burnt out. It was one neighbourhood that was really trying to fight back”.

“With terrible tragedies like the killings of Shane Geoghegan and Roy Collins, there is a need to get down to neighbourhood level and root out violence and drug culture; to root out thugs who terrorise and force people out. The local authority and the Government need to tackle this problem. Weston Gardens has already won the heart of the committee and I think they will write some strong recommendations and contact Government ministers.”

She added that “one third of the cases from the petitions committee go on to the European courts”.