Gangs continue to cast cloud over Shannonside
DEATH threats following a shocking TV programme, balaclavas and a replica gun found at the scene of fatal accidents and one of the country's most dangerous criminals back in town.
While conversation across the rest of the country concerns the crippling Budget, water shortages and freezing snow, in Limerick, it is the activities of the city's criminals which dominate.
In recent years, there has been a major push to spin positive about life on Shannonside -- particularly by Laura Ryan in the city's co-ordination office -- but the dark and sinister side of Limerick refuses to disappear.
While the problems of Limerick's criminal gangs has been well-documented, on Monday night a 'Prime Time Investigates' programme brought the stark reality of life in the country's most deprived estates into sitting rooms: youths brandishing a sawn-off shotgun; criminals comparing prison to a holiday camp; and tearful families held prisoner in their own homes as gangs run riot outside.
However, the most prominent reaction to the TV show was the fact that so many in Limerick seemed surprised and shocked by what was happening in some areas. For a city composed of up to 100,000 people, a lot have clearly had their heads stuck in the sand since well before the turn of the Millennium.
The problems in the neighbourhoods and streets of Southill, St Mary's Park, Ballinacurra-Weston and Moyross have been reported for decades. Even more so in recent years after the Government ordered Limerick's Regeneration Agencies to tackle the ongoing issues.
However, that did not stop hundreds contacting Limerick's Live 95FM morning talkshow host Joe Nash to express their horror, while others vented their disgust with RTE for the negative documentary.
Chief executive officer with Limerick's Regeneration Agencies Brendan Kenny said the picture portrayed was "very depressing and very negative". He admitted that "it did give a real insight into the reality of life and the reality of the environment where some people are living".
On the same evening as people sat open-mouthed in front of their TVs, the man most synonymous with crime in Limerick -- Wayne Dundon -- was creeping back into the city. Dundon often returns from the UK and his presence in the city puts everybody on tenterhooks.
On Tuesday night, another criminal, Andrew Nolan (30), managed to escape with his life after the stolen BMW he was driving crashed while trying to evade a patrol car.
Nolan's two passengers weren't so lucky and Eric Fitzgerald (23) and Cornelius Fitzharris (28) died on the icy road. Gardai recovered a BB air gun, balaclavas and house- breaking implements from the wreckage.
Meanwhile, staff at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital were stunned to find Wayne Dundon checking on the condition of Nolan (who has a very crude nickname) after the crash.
On top of all this, the intimidation persists.
One participant in the controversial TV show, Susan Moran, said her family received a phone call afterwards and were issued with a chilling death threat: "You are all going to die after going on 'Prime Time'."
And so it continues. The country attempts to come to grips with the economy, Budget and arctic weather, while in certain quarters of Limerick, the hardest aspect of life in 2010 is trying to stay alive.