Their dream house turned into terror trap
THEY thought it would be their dream home.
On May 7, 2001, a Limerick city family received the keys to their newly built house at Fairview Crescent in Garryowen.
But less than 10 years later, the family of eight have been forced to flee after physical assaults, numerous attacks on property and death threats.
They only agreed to speak to the Irish Independent on condition of anonymity.
About 40 homes were constructed in Fairview Crescent. "Like everyone else moving into these houses, we attended and completed a tenancy course and received the certificate from the city council. Everyone had to agree to comply with this, but that's not what happened," the mother said
"We put €25,000 into doing up the house and gardens -- it was our home."
"Soon a gang was formed by people in the area. They started threatening everyone and making life hell. They made us prisoners in our own home. It was non-stop," she said.
"I lived in Limerick all my life and never encountered anything like this."
In September 2004, a letter from local TD and then junior minister Willie O'Dea told her those responsible had been warned of the repercussions "regardless of their circumstances unless their conduct improved".
The gardai arrested the culprits, but with a criminal case pending, the thugs stepped up their campaign against the families who would have to provide evidence.
"They kicked in my door and threatened to rape and murder me and my mother. They said they would slit my throat and that my son would get a bullet in the head," the mother said.
"We had to drop the case and told the guards we couldn't go to court, I had no other choice, but it never stopped. They never left us alone -- they rang our phones and stopped us on the street and threatened us. I would walk into my home and they would all be gathered outside, I'd have to run through them."
Numerous appeals were made to local politicians and the council.
"We never got any help. The council told us they couldn't move the crowd causing the problems as they would be exporting the problem elsewhere."
"When I asked to move to another house, they offered me the homeless shelter in town," she said.
"I had to live as a prisoner in my own home. "
Eventually, she was driven to an unsuccessful bid to take her own life.
A letter seen by the Irish Independent from a doctor based in Limerick recently pleaded with the local authority to have the woman moved because of her anxiety, insomnia and constant fear of leaving her home.
The GP said he did not normally write such letters but felt "compelled to do so from the palpable fear" she was suffering.
The family now live elsewhere.
"How do they expect people to live in these hell holes? This is against our basic human rights,'' said the mother.