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Friday 20 April 2018

Years of neglect and gang violence boiled over

IN September 2006, the Limerick suburb of Moyross reached boiling point.

Following years of neglect by local authorities and a summer of gangland violence in the city, a weekend of mayhem resulted in two children being scarred for life after their mother's car was petrol-bombed.

Afterwards, gang member 'Fat Frankie' Ryan was shot dead -- and when RTE broadcaster Pat Kenny visited the estates, teens showed a handgun to him in broad daylight.

It had gone too far and the then Justice Minister Michael McDowell asked Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald to draw up a report on crime and social problems in Moyross. His remit soon extended to Southill and after reporting back to government in 2007, Limerick's Regeneration Agencies -- with 15 staff led by Brendan Kenny -- were established that June.

The plan was to knock down 3,000 homes and rebuild 3,000 homes by 2018.

Aspirations

Three needs were to be addressed to tackle what Mr Fitzgerald described as the worst problems he had ever encountered.

Physical, economic and social reform would take place with strong priority placed on social improvements -- the cornerstone of regeneration.

To great fanfare, President Mary McAleese arrived in Moyross and Southill in early 2008 and spoke of her hopes for a "truly better future".

The multi-million euro cost was always going to be an issue and at a regeneration board meeting in 2008, Limerick County Manager Ned Gleeson questioned would there be resources to meet their aspirations.

Today, Brendan Kenny admits they were left under-resourced. Regeneration was launched at the worst possible time as the economic crash tightened public coffers, but he insists it has brought an improvement to Limerick.

But he warned: "If the momentum is lost or if there is a vacuum, you could see the problems spiralling out of control again. Limerick can't afford that."

Irish Independent

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