THIRTEEN elderly people are to be moved out of their homes because they are being terrorised by gangs of youths.
Those affected are living in Southill in Limerick city, and are to be moved to nearby Castletroy.
The Southside branch of Limerick's Regeneration Agency has confirmed that 13 apartments have been secured in the Park Village residential home for elderly victims of harassment in the Southill area.
Director of Southside Social Regeneration Brendan Hayden said that the people are being moved because they are at "very serious risk" in their homes.
"The abuse of one resident was so serious we felt she would have died of a heart attack if we did not get her out when we did," he said.
"The idea behind it is to help elderly people who are suffering and want to find some peace," Mr Hayden said.
He confirmed that a number of elderly people from Keyes Park were interested in moving, as were three other families from Carew Park.
The move to Castletroy Park Village, which is partially funded by the Environment Department, will provide elderly victims of anti-social behaviour with a "safer home" that they can afford, Mr Hayden said.
He said that moving people out was the only option as the majority of the harassment is coming from children who cannot be prosecuted.
This is because of the law which prevents children under the age of 12 being charged for committing crimes or engaging in anti-social behaviour.
Southill parish priest Father Pat Hogan said that there is an urgent need for a change in the law regarding children under 12, and that the HSE needs to be more proactive in helping the families of these children.
"Some of these young children start losing their way as early as eight and nine and are wreaking havoc on the area -- they badly need direction," he said.
He added that moving elderly residents to Castletroy is only a temporary measure until the Regeneration Agency builds them more suitable homes nearer to Southill.
Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said that he would be pushing for a change in the law regarding the prosecution of children under 12.
"I will be talking to the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern about the possibility of holding parents responsible for the acts of their children," he said.